All Blacks coach Ian Foster is remaining optimistic, despite his side slumping to a disappointing 26-10 defeat to the Springboks, their fifth in six test matches
New Zealand was outplayed, outmatched and outgunned with the South African defence proving too tough to penetrate in their Rugby Championship opener.
But Foster believes there were plenty of positives to take from the loss, and is proud of his team's effort against a formidable opponent.
"I think in many ways, it was probably our best performance of the year," he told Sky Sport after the test.
"I think we really did well at the lineouts, we defended their drive, our defence. We weren't getting any calls in that first half, our defence was really strong.
"It was a game dominated by defence and dominated by a couple of high ball errors.
"Really proud of the effort, they [Springboks] played a real clinical game, and we just couldn't quite make the opportunities stick."
The loss sees the Springboks break their eight-year hoodoo against the All Blacks in South Africa, in front of a packed-out Mbombela Stadium.
Foster admits the occasion may have got to the players, but is looking forward to rectifying those wrongs next week at Johannesburg.
"There are a number of guys here playing for the first time and you could sort of feel the occasion," he told Sky Sport.
"You could see how desperate we wanted it but just the timing was a fraction out against their line speed and against them coming in, particularly on our pivot type play.
"We got to get better than that, and we have another chance next week. There's enough there to show that we were moving in the right direction.
"It hurts to drop it, but these are always big test matches over here and Ellis Park will be the same."