Disappointed Wales coach Mike Ruddock says a lack of cohesion in the opening exchanges cost his side a win.
"In the first 20 minutes, we looked like a side that hadn't been together for long," said Ruddock after the 36-38 loss to South Africa in Cardiff.
"That period proved decisive, we gave scores and missed tackles, but showed the skill and character to come back.
"You can see a spark in this team and we can go on from here despite the disappointment of losing today."
Ruddock added: "Our skipper Gareth Thomas was superb in the way he rallied the troops.
"I was also incredibly impressed with Dwayne Peel, he has all of the elements you want to see in a top class scrum-half."
Thomas added: "We started playing too late and at the end of the day we are devastated we lost.
"But I have got such belief in this set of players."