Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer told his players this was a life and death situation and they responded by thumping Australia 31-8 in Pretoria today.
Meyer was under immense pressure to deliver. His seven-game reign was underwhelming for a rugby-mad country that expects better results than one win over Argentina in the Rugby Championship before this match.
Relief will be Meyer's prevailing emotion after his side lifted the dark cloud hanging over his head by claiming a breakthrough bonus-point victory that unearthed a new star in rookie first five-eighths Johan Goosen.
After ending the Wallabies five-match winning streak over them, the Boks' will now be invigorated for the All Blacks' challenge next week.
Two tries from fullback Zane Kirchner a hat-trick from veteran wing Bryan Habana, plus one from flanker Francois Louw, sealed the five-tries-to-one win, but Goosen was a standout for the Boks, who proved they are a much tougher prospect in-front of 44,63 manic fans on the Highveld.
Morne Steyn has been a handbrake in the last 30 consecutive tests.
Finally, he was dropped. So, too, was the Boks' conservative game-plan.
Goosen immediately added a different dimension while debut Lions centre Jaco Taute was also solid.
Tears rolled down the 20-year-old Goosen's face during the national anthem. His first test start meant plenty.
Initially, he struggled to overcome that emotion, missing two penalty attempts before halfback Ruan Pienaar took over the goal kicking.
That took some pressure and responsibility off Goosen. He then found his feet to spark the Boks' attack.
The speedy Cheetahs playmaker, denied a try for a double movement in the first spell, wasn't perfect, but his deft passing, ability to break the line and willingness to take chances from deep in the pocket were impressive features.
Already without key leaders David Pocock and Will Genia, the Wallabies weren't helped in their quest for a first victory at Loftus Versfeld by losing three players in the first-half, and No.8 Radike Samo
(shoulder) and hooker Tatafu Polota Nau in the second spell.
It got so bad they played the final 10-minutes with just seven forwards.
Prop Ben Robinson, fullback Berrick Barnes (chest) and utility Adam Ashley Cooper (concussion) all left the field early, causing an injury crisis.
That left the visitors with just halfback Brett Sheehan on the bench. The backline causalities forced a reshuffle with Mike Harris, who scored their only try, covering fullback and Anthony Fainga'a slotting in at centre.
But injuries don't excuse James Slipper's second-half sin-binning for cynical play, or the lack of structure and penetrative ball barriers from the Wallabies.
They looked on the ropes and out of ideas for much of the contest. Down 14-3 at half-time, the visitors never appeared close to mounting a genuine fight back.
Robbie Deans' tenuous grip on the Wallabies continues to loosen. With Ewen McKenzie waiting in the wings, Deans may need to beat Argentina in Rosario, to save his job. The final match of the tournament will have immense intrigue.
Quade Cooper's undermining comments this week, that labelled the environment "toxic", will only enhance speculation that Deans doesn't have the answers and isn't the right man for this team.
Kurtley Beale did a meritorious job of attempting to steer his side around the park in his first start at No.10, but with troops dropping all around him the task was not easy.
Australia: Mike Harris try, Kurtley Beale pen
South Africa: Zane Kirchner 2, Bryan Habana 2, Francois Louw tries, Johan Goosen con, Ruan Pienaar con 3
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should Robbie Deans be retained as coach of the Wallabies?Related story: (See story)