Australia coach John Connolly took solace from an "ugly" 20-18 victory over South Africa that maintains his side's hopes of catching New Zealand.
Stirling Mortlock celebrates landing his winning conversion
"I guess that gives new meaning to the term winning ugly," Connolly said. "We're incredibly disappointed by the way we played but delighted we won.
"We've played seven games in nine weeks and I guess we were a little flat."
"It's good to see we held our nerve and showed good composure at the end," added captain George Gregan.
None more so than Stirling Mortlock, who stepped up to convert from wide out on the touchline with the scores level after Mat Rogers' late try in the left corner.
"From a goalkicker's perspective, those are the moments you
dream about," said Mortlock, who also kicked a last-minute penalty against the Springboks in Durban six years ago to give Australia their first Tri-Nations title.
"I thought it was going over when I kicked it but when it started to tail off I started getting worried and I can tell you I was relieved when the flags went
We did everything we could, it's just heartbreaking
Springboks captain John Smit
South Africa, having lost all three away games, will be relieved to return home for their final three games of this year's expanded competition, starting with two clashes with the All Blacks, the first in Pretoria on 26 August.
"We did everything we could to win, it's just heartbreaking," said Springboks captain John Smit.
"It's especially hard after we worked so hard for 80 minutes.
"We knew from the start we could win this game, and we did enough to win it, but we just didn't come through when it really mattered.
It just showed that Australia are a team that never say die
"But we will take a lot out of this game and we are looking forward to playing on our own paddock now."
South Africa coach Jake White was equally despondent at the result.
"We showed a lot of character after the 49-0 drubbing three
weeks ago but that doesn't make losing any easier to accept," he said.
"It was just one of those games that got away from us but
full credit to Australia. It just showed, yet again, that they
are a team that never say die."
The Wallabies meet New Zealand again in Auckland in a fortnight, before concluding the tournament in Johannesburg on 9 September.