The South Africans now return home from their month-long tour of the northern hemisphere with two wins and two losses, following wins over France and Scotland and a one-point defeat to England at the beginning of the tour.
Right wing Sbu Nkosi hurt his knee during Saturday’s warm-up and was replaced by Cheslin Kolbe, who gave a brave performance on defence and attack, while lock RG Snyman left the field very early with a foot injury and was replaced by Eben Etzebeth.
Wales scored two early tries through Tomas Francis and Liam Williams, which Gareth Anscombe both converted, while Dan Bigger slotted two successful penalty kicks.
Jesse Kriel dotted down for the Springboks and the rest of the points were scored through penalty kicks by Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies.
Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit stepped into touch and was denied a try in the first half while Kriel was earlier held up over the Welsh try line following a sustained period of Springbok pressure.
Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, said afterwards the Welsh were the better team and he offered no excuses after the Springboks’ disappointing end to the international season.
“Today (Saturday) was perhaps the first time that I felt we were outplayed after we were always in with a chance in all our other games,” was the forthright assessment of Erasmus.
“They came with no surprises and we knew exactly what they were going to do, but I felt we didn’t adjust our plan as we should have. Wales were good with their kicking game and solid in defence and although we created opportunities our finishing and discipline let us down,” added Erasmus.
Siya Kolisi, the Springbok captain, said Wales showed why they have won eight in a row before yesterday’s Test and also why they are currently number three on the world rankings.
“All of us knew that this was going to be our most difficult match of the tour and they made it tough for us,” said Kolisi.
“They were smart each time we got into their half and we let ourselves down with ill-discipline by giving away penalties, which allowed them to exit from their half. All credit to Wales because they had a great plan it worked out well for them.”
According to Kolisi, it is tough to look for positives after such a defeat, but he did mention he is happy with the overall growth of the team.
“We are making progress and although we are nowhere near where we want to be, we are headlining in the right direction,” said Kolisi.
“However, we have to become more consistent because you cannot win two or three matches and then lose the next few – you have to pitch up for every Test and that’s what we will have to strive for.”
Several Springboks will stay behind to play for the Barbarians next week in London against Argentina, while the Baabaas will also be coached by Erasmus.
Wales 20 – Tries: Tomas Francis, Liam Williams; Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (2); Penalties: Dan Biggar (2).
Springboks 11 – Try: Jesse Kriel; Penalties: Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies.