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South Africa defeated Ireland 19-13 at Port Elizabeth to secure a 2-1 Test series win over the visitors.
The Springboks led 13-10 at the interval, despite first-half possession and territory having both been bossed by the Irish.
Again in the second period, Ireland had plenty of the ball and a host of opportunities to penetrate but the South Africans were able to eke out a narrow victory and secure glory in the series.
Ireland's long wait for a series win on South African soil goes on following a mighty but ultimately unsuccessful effort at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Irish, following a strong start, were pegged back by a Elton Jantjies penalty, although the out-half missed a subsequent attempt to extend his side’s lead.
With Willie le Roux sin-binned for a dangerous barge on Tiernan O'Halloran, powerful charges from Iain Henderson and Devin Toner allowed Luke Marshall to find a gap and score the opening try, with Paddy Jackson adding the extras.
Jackson converted one of two penalty attempts prior to the half-hour, before a three-point reply from Jantjies.
The Boks secured the half-time lead through a try from JP Pietersen, who collected a cross-field kick from Jantjies to touch down, with the conversion leaving South Africa three in front.
Ireland paid for being unable to convert opportunities during the third quarter, as Ruan Combrinck’s penalty extended South Africa’s advantage, and Jantjies soon followed suit.
Jackson hit back for the visitors to leave six between the sides entering the final 10 minutes.
When Jamie Heaslip claimed an Ireland line-out deep in Springbok territory late on, the away side’s hopes of a dramatic triumph were raised, but South Africa held on to secure a hard-fought triumph.
Nevertheless, Ireland captain Rory was extremely proud of his players and looked ahead to more fulfilling moments.
"It's been a great series, a really tough series, exactly what we thought it would be," Best told Sky Sports immediately after the clash. "They're a top side.
"We came here to win a series. We've fallen short now twice, but six points in the game shows how tight the games have been.
"Our boys have fought valiantly. Unfortunately, in the last two Tests, the Springboks have been a bit more clinical.
"A lot of people wrote us off before we came here but there are some really young players coming through. There are a lot boys to come in.
"The future of Irish rugby is really bright. We still think we're good enough to win a series like that, and eventually we'll take a look back to find out why we didn't."