Wales coach Mike Ruddock conceded his side were second best to South Africa during their 16-33 defeat in Cardiff.
South Africa scored four tries while Wales managed just one when Ceri Sweeney crossed late on.
Ruddock said: "You have to say well done to South Africa. They are a quality side. Whenever we made an error they punished us.
"Our error count has been quite high this autumn, but I saw a huge amount of effort from my players."
Wales certainly showed improvement from their last two outings against New Zealand and Fiji, with the forwards especially competing well with one of the world's finest packs.
Ruddock added: "When I took over with Wales our scrum was creaking but we have quite a significant scrum at the moment.
"We have had a lot of injuries and we are trying to bring new players in and there have been a lot of positives despite the fact we have been losing matches."
Wales' terrible run of bad luck with injuries continued as lock Luke Charteris failed a late fitness test on a calf injury and was replaced by Ian Gough.
Ruddock had already lost Lions stars Gavin Henson, Dwayne Peel, Gethin Jenkins, Tom Shanklin and Ryan Jones for the entire autumn series.
Captain Gareth Thomas looked Wales' most dangerous attacking threat, benefiting from more action after being moved from full-back to centre.
And he said the players could be proud of their effort.
"I thought we improved a whole lot," said Thomas. "Our commitment was brilliant and we dug in for 80 minutes.
"We haven't been together for long and we have had a lot of injuries, but the new players who have come in have stood up well."