Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer admitted discipline was an issue and they have to improve markedly.
However, the Bok mentor believes South Africa showed glimpses of the rugby and form that will ultimately win them trophies down the line when they held on for a 21-10 win against a fast-finishing Scotland at the weekend.
Meyer, speaking after his team took a commanding 21-3 lead going into the last half-hour and then held on in the face of a strong rally by the Scots, admitted a lack of discipline contributed to his team's poor second-half performance.
However, the manner in which they hung on and defended their line while the Scots dominated possession is a clear indication that the Boks can win trophies and the World Cup.
"I was very disappointed with the second half," Meyer said, adding: "We played tactically very well in the first half.
"It was the plan to put them under pressure and build the innings. I thought that at 14-3 at half-time we could move on from there.
"However, second half [in Edinburgh], just like he first half the previous week [in Dublin against Ireland], we conceded just too many penalties.
"We had seven penalties and free kicks at the scrums against us, that was just for setting the scrums.
"If you give seven free kicks or penalties away you are always going to be under pressure."
Meyer said he was very happy with the character of the players and very happy with the defence and the last half-our when the Scots dominated possession and territory.
"I thought our defence was awesome," the Bok mentor said, adding: "Scotland must also get credit for the way they played, they really came at us in the second half."
While he was obviously not happy with the second half, he was happy to have walked away with a win.
"I thought we were in control for the first half and just after half-time. Then, suddenly, there was a huge swing in momentum. That is why it wasn't aesthetically the most pleasing second half.
"However, that is how you win trophies and the World Cup - holding out on defence [under pressure].
"The guys will definitely learn from this, because we were under huge pressure and just great defence kept them out.
"This team need to learn and we need to improve."
The high penalty count and lack of discipline are key areas they will focus on going into the final tour match against England this week.
"It is frustrating at times, because we pride ourselves on discipline.
"At Soccer City [against the All Blacks in Soweto] we gave away [just] four penalties," he said, adding: "Suddenly it is 17 penalties [against Scotland].
"That is unacceptable at this level.
"We have to sort those issues out, especially the scrums, because you can't get anything going.
"Whenever they get a penalty they kick into the corner and you have to defend again for 10 minutes.
Asked what brought about the change in momentum, given that the Boks held a commanding 21-3 lead after 50 minutes, Meyer again pointed to discipline.
"It was a penalty 10 minutes into the second half," he said of the change in momentum, adding: "They kicked it into the corner and scored from there.
"They got a lot of confidence from that - there was only 11 points [difference between the teams] in the game and from there they started playing.
"I also thought once they realised every scrum is a penalty, they knew they could play in our half and live of our mistakes.
"We must remember, two years ago Scotland beat a very experienced Bok team. That is why I am very happy with the character this team showed.
"No doubt we have to improve for next week."
Meyer also came to the defence of young flyhalf Patrick Lambie, who did not cover himself in glory with his options and tactical kicking.
"The first half was superb," he said, when asked about Lambie's kicking performance.
"As for the second half, you can't have good tactical kicking if you give away 17 penalties.
"You will always be in defensive mode, because they have all the possession and make all the decisions.
"In the first half Pat [Lambie] played well, put the ball in behind them and we got reward from that, especially from penalties.
"In the second half we couldn't get into their half because we didn't have the ball."
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