Wayne Pivac was delighted to become the first Wales coach to claim a victory over the Springboks in South Africa after stunning scenes in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Gareth Anscombe nailed a touchline conversion of a Josh Adams try as the Welsh claimed a famous 13-12 victory over the Boks before the final hooter, and set up a series showdown between the two teams in Cape Town next week.
Unforced errors from the visitors set them back from creating any real attacking momentum in Bloem, and they suffered an early injury blow with veteran Alex Cuthbert replaced by Adams on the left wing before the close of the first 20 minutes.
The Boks also dominated Wales for most of the match but couldn’t convert their advantage into points, allowing the tourists to stage a late fightback before Adams and Anscombe combined to set off wild celebrations on the field and in the coaches box.
Speaking post-match on Saturday, Pivac told media: “There was a lot of emotion that poured out. It was more around the feeling from last week [in Pretoria], which we’ve taken into this week. I’m just really happy for the players who did so well last week but didn’t get across the line.
“To come back from 12-3 to get that result and the way they did it… I’m very happy.
“We really wanted to create history last week against the side we were up against. To be denied that was really frustrating.
“After last week it feels very good, obviously. 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.
“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. We talked about that at half time.”
Wales captain Dan Biggar said being part of the first Wales to beat the Boks on their own turf was special: “There have been some really good Welsh teams that have come here and been sent packing.
Biggar said Anscombe, who replaced the injured skipper in the 53rd minute, had shown “absolute character” to give Wales the historic win, and also praised replacement rookie prop Sam Wainwright for standing his ground in a fiercely-contested scrum as the Boks pushed in the hope of winning a penalty in added time
“It was just exceptional on debut,” he said of Wainwright, a late call-up for the tour after Leon Brown withdrew injured.
Asked about the performance of a so-called “B-Team” Bok lineup that featured 14 changes from the first Test, Pivac added: “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.
“It will be an interesting selection but it will be the strongest South African team because it’ll be a decider and both teams have entered into this to win a series.
“We’re just pleased that we got across the line tonight but we go to Cape Town with that opportunity.”