South Africa won the battle but lost the war following their victory over ill-disciplined Argentina in Durban, a result that handed the 2022 Rugby Championship title to New Zealand.
The All Blacks topped the standings with 19 points from their six games, one more than South Africa, who could not manage the try-scoring bonus point they needed to go with a 39-point winning margin on the scoreboard to claim the trophy.
Instead, Argentina ran them close in Durban but were once again let down by their discipline as they received four yellow cards and conceded two penalty tries. The Boks also scored through No 8 Jasper Wiese, captain Siya Kolisi and replacement full-back Kurt-Lee Arendse.
The visitors looked dangerous every time they had ball in hand and scored three tries through scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou, back row Juan Martín Gonzalez and centre Matias Moroni, but spent much of the time on defence as they conceded 22 penalties.
New Zealand's 40-14 win over Australia earlier in the day made South Africa's task difficult in Durban, especially as they have only scored more than 40 points in a game once since winning the Rugby World Cup in 2019 – against Georgia in July last year.
Coach Jacques Nienaber has bemoaned their inability to turn pressure in the opponents' 22 into points this season and it proved the case again in the first half as they dominated possession and territory but led 17-7 at the break.
It was a mixture of poor decision-making, stout Argentina defence and cynical play from the visitors that led to yellow cards for forwards Marcos Kremer and Juan Martin Gonzalez, but the Boks could not capitalise.
Wiese scored his first try in a green and gold jersey as the home side scrummed the ball over the line, before Kolisi crossed when he broke away from a maul and dived over.
Argentina scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou got a try back before the half-time whistle when he profited from some scrappy defence from the hosts.
For the second week in a row Argentina started the second half much the brighter and they were rewarded with an excellent second score via loose forward Gonzalez as he showed excellent pace to race down the left wing and dot down.
But the Boks' power game and their 'Bomb Squad' off the bench was sapping the energy of the visitors and they conceded two more scores from driving mauls that ended as penalty tries and two more yellow cards.