The tourists fought back to end their trip on a positive note by avoiding a series whitewash in Port Elizabeth and Hartley was happy with the commitment shown by his men.
"It's been a tough tour. It's been a good three weeks," he said on Sky Sports 1. "We've grafted hard, just haven't played for the full 80 minutes.
"Today we strung together a full 80 minutes. Defence was good, ball-retention was good - we just didn't come away with the result. It was a tough Test, as always.
"In the last two games we've learned when the green machine gets going they're hard to stop. We took a bit of pride today in two-man tackles, getting it off the line, stopping their momentum.
"A draw's a draw. We'll take it and look forward to playing the boys again in November in England."
Springboks skipper Jean de Villiers was disappointed with his team's performance, but praised England for their gutsy effort.
"Credit to England," he said. "They played well. I thought we weren't good at all tonight. We'll have to take a hard look at ourselves.
"Our option-taking was poor at times. Obviously the weather doesn't make it any easier. Credit to them - they did well. At least we didn't lose the game - that's the only positive we can take out of this."
England head coach Stuart Lancaster felt the experience of the tour would prove invaluable to his young players.
"Obviously the rain made it difficult for both sides," he said on Sky Sports 1. "It was a tight game. Both sides tightened up, particularly in the second half. I thought we defended much, much better than last week, so delighted with that.
"A couple of ill-disciplined pens didn't go our way, but overall delighted with the efforts the boys put in over the course of the tour.
"It could have been won with the clock done. They're the small margins. But when Owen [Farrell] came on, we had an under-21 10,12,13. We've got young lads making their debut - Alex Goode was outstanding at full-back.
"Overall, when you look at where we were and where we are now, I think we're in a good place."
He continued: "People have got short memories, I think. Take us back six months - we lost a huge amount of experience out of this England side. When you take out Jonny Wilkinson, Simon Shaw, Mike Tindall, Lewis Moody... it takes time to rebuild.
"They [South Africa] had over 500 caps in their side. We're a side just developing that experience.
"Don't get me wrong - we're gutted not to win the game. We wanted to win the game. We wanted to win the series. We didn't, but there are plenty of positives to take as well."
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