Wales boss Wayne Pivac says the wild celebrations triggered by his side’s “special” 12-13 win over South Africa were driven by last week’s heart-breaking last-gasp defeat.
Gareth Anscombe’s dramatic late conversion after replacement Josh Adams’ try earned Wales their first ever away victory over the Springboks and sparked jubilant scenes in the Wales coaching box.
Wales had suffered a devastating 32-29 loss in Pretoria seven days earlier, when Damian Willemse’s 82nd minute penalty edged the home side ahead in the series.
The world champions benefited from four yellow cards for the visitors in the match, including three for Louis Rees-Zammit, Alun Wyn Jones and Rhys Carre in the final stages.
And for Pivac, it was the painful memories of that crushing loss rather than the historic achievement that contributed to the delight at the final whistle.
He said: “We were [ecstatic in the last few minutes]. Probably not so much because of the history, though we’re very well aware of that and proud of it.
“But it was more the disappointment for the players who had put in such a huge shift last week. There was so much disappointment in the changing room when we’d worked so hard.
“We really wanted to create history last week against the side we were up against. To be denied that was really frustrating.
“There was a lot of emotion that poured out. It was more around the feeling from last week, which we’ve taken into this week.
“We went through the pain of that last quarter and tonight we’ve actually turned that game around and won it in the last quarter. So that was very special.”
Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber made 14 changes to last week’s starting XV, but Pivac paid respect to the combative side Wales came up against.
Pivac said: “I thought there were some South African players today that did very well and put us under a lot of pressure. “A bit like ourselves last week, did enough to win a Test match but didn’t quite get there.
“But this South Africa side that we played didn’t disappoint. They came in and knocked us off our stride in that first half. We weren’t able to build enough pressure in phases.”
Pivac also paid tribute to his own team, and debutant Sam Wainwright in particular who played a crucial role in winning the late penalty that led to Adams’ try.
He added: “To be honest, it’s not about individuals. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve achieved any more than anyone else in the group. It’s the boys that play the game.
“We prepare them, they go out there and they have to go through some dark times in an 80-minute game. They’ve done that and dug themselves out of a hole at 12-3 and got a result that we’re all proud of.
“And then to hold out that last scrum. That was a big moment for us as well and for young Sam Wainwright, on his debut, to go in and do such a good job, I’m very pleased for him.”
Wales captain Dan Biggar concurred, hailing his team’s gusty performance.
“We have earned the right to enjoy this victory because it is a huge achievement,” he said.
“There have been some very, very good Wales teams to have come here and been sent packing. We are a really tight-knit group, and everyone deserves a pat on the back.
“I mentioned before the game in my speech [to the players] that it was an easy job to be captain of this team because we have got a great group of guys who will roll their sleeves up and work their socks off.”
The 32-year-old fly-half was forced off in the second half with a shoulder injury, and faces an agonising wait to see if he can play a role in the series decider on July 16 in Cape Town.
Biggar said: “I will be desperate to be involved next Saturday. Hopefully, it is just a bang and nothing more. I am a bit sore, so we will see how it pulls up tomorrow.”