The Springboks wilted under pressure in their Tri-Nations clash with Australia in Durban, but it has emerged that there were other priorities at play apart from merely winning the game which could have contributed to their downfall.
Captain John Smit's men came out firing as promised, although it appeared as though they may have had a few blanks in the chamber as they only had a slender 6-0 lead to show for their dominance in the first half.
With the bulk of their incumbent World Cup team on the park there were encouraging signs from the defending world champions but their lack of match fitness showed in the second half as they fell off the pace and capitulated to a determined Wallabies outfit.
With under a month to go before the start of the World Cup, gaining winning momentum was vital for the Boks especially given their disappointing performances in Australasia.
However, winning was apparently not their sole focus as many of the old combinations who have been entrusted with championing the team's defence of their World Cup crown were given an opportunity to 'play a bit more rugby' together.
Smit explained that despite a demoralising series of results in recent times there were other factors on his mind in Durban apart from seeking victory at any cost.
The Bok skipper opted to set up attacking line-outs against the Wallabies at times when taking aim at the poles was perhaps the more prudent option, and he explained that it was necessary in order to give the old guard a chance to 'reconnect' after their time out due to 'rehabilitation'.
"There was possibly a different attitude towards the game with not taking every single opportunity for poles and playing a little bit more rugby to get the guys working harder but that will hopefully all count for us by the time we do get to play-off rugby," explained the Springbok captain.
"I think the thing that is going to be the biggest positive is the fact that some guys got throught the whole game and got some match-fitness and match hardness so next week will be a different ball game."
Essentially what this means is that the Boks were willing to take chances and possibly forfeit winning momentum four weeks before the World Cup kicks off to ensure that the experienced campaigners would be fighting fit by the time play-off rugby comes around.
Despite another vital blow to his team's confidence Smit tried his best to explain how losing at home could be beneficial to the team so close to the global showpiece in New Zealand.
He said: "It is disappointing to lose but there is a lot to draw from this and we will have to work quite hard and take what we did well this week.
"I'm not going to lie, we wanted to win this game and it is disappointing. Both teams would have liked to take a step in the right direction in terms of what this year is going to bring but it was not to be for us so we will have to knuckle down and try and take that step next week," added the Bok skipper.
By Michael de Vries, in Durban
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