Battling Scotland ran out of steam after leading South Africa 17-6 just after half-time, and finally succumbed to a 30-17 defeat yesterday at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
The Sprinkboks, ranked No 2 in the world, managed to escape what would have been a huge upset in a four-nation tournament against a touring team missing its British Lions and struggling with injuries.
Scottish centre Matt Scott ran in a try midway through the first half after debutant winger Tommy Seymour burst through.
It gave the Scots a 10-6 lead when Greig Laidlaw converted it to add to his earlier penalty.
And when centre Alex Dunbar scored three minutes into the second half after a drive by lock Tim Swinson, an upset looked on with the Scots 11 points clear.
But South Africa came back with three second-half tries through a penalty try, centre JJ Engelbrecht, and replacement Jan Serfontein right on the final whistle. The Engelbrecht score came when Scottish lock Jim Hamilton was in the sin bin after the turning point of the game.
Hamilton’s irritation with his opposite number. Eben Etzebeth. boiled over with a push into the face 12 minutes into the second half.
After a review of the television replays, he was shown a yellow card.
Ruaridh Jackson, his replacement Peter Horne and loose forward Ryan Wilson are all doubtful for the next match against Italy in Pretoria.
South Africa now meet Samoa in the final after the islanders powered to a 39-10 win over Italy, their third successive test win against Six Nations opposition.
Having won in Wales in November and beaten Scotland in Durban last week, the Samoans proved too strong for the Italians in Nelspruit in a scrappy game in which they out-scored their opponents by five tries to one.
Italy held the powerful Pacific islanders to a 10-3 at half time but conceded four more tries in the second half.
Samoa captain Paul Williams crossed for the opening try and kicked 13 more points.
New Zealand crushed France 30‑0 in the second test at Christchurch yesterday to claim a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
After an unconvincing 23-13 win in the first test at Auckland, an unchanged New Zealand improved in every area at Rugby Park and swept aside what was expected to be a much stronger challenge from a strengthened French team.
All Black wingers Julian Savea and Ben Smith and replacement Beauden Barrett scored tries for a New Zealand team that was dominant in every aspect of the match. Savea’s try came in only the fourth minute and the Kiwis never let up.
This was New Zealand’s 500th test match in their 110-year rugby history and they improved their overall record to 378 wins, 104 losses and 18 draws, with a 75 percent winning rate. It was their 40th victory in 53 test matches against France, but the first time that they had kept the French scoreless.