Johannesburg - South African captain John Smit and coach Peter de Villiers on Saturday both conceded that the Springboks were beaten by a better team after the touring British and Irish Lions had won the third Test in Johannesburg.
"They had more intensity and their win was well-deserved," said Smit, and De Villiers added that he was grateful they had won the series, a goal they had set themselves.
The Lions won the third Test 28-9.
Although the loss was disappointing, De Villiers said that it would stand the Boks in good stead for the Tri-Nations with the Springboks playing the first of their six matches on July 25.
"How would you know if you didn't take the chances?" he answered when asked whether he felt he had done the right thing by making 10 changes to the side which had won the second Test. "We now know what we have to do for the Tri-Nations," was his view.
And, although the Boks may have missed suspended lock Bakkies Botha, De Villiers gave full credit to the Lions. "We need to honour them for how they played," he said.
Smit said the series was a great experience from start to finish and that was borne out by the toughness, competitiveness and how close the results were.
"We'll enjoy the series win, but the Lions were all over us in all departments."
While Lions coach Ian McGeechan rued the chances they missed in the first two Tests which might just as well have gone their way, according to him, he was pleased with the way the Lions had finished.
"Everybody had the same focus, as has been the case on the whole of the tour, and it shows how well the whole group has integrated into the tour.
"We just didn't have the breaks, and could well have come into this Test 2-0 up, or one-all, but were 2-0 down.
"I thought we were very accurate today. It is a very pleasant victory, and will last us for years." He added that he doesn't think he would have changed anything for the preparations on tour.
"It's been a fantastic series and I congratulate the Springboks on their series win," he said.
McGeechan added that he felt questions should be asked about giving the Lions a fair chance to prepare for tours and that seems certain to be taken up once the touring sides gets back home.
Lions captain Paul O'Connell said the past week had been one of the toughest in the careers of the Lions players after losing the series and four of their front players, and felt the series loss greatly.
"But that's sport. We just rallied and dug deep," he said and added that it would've been tough going home with a 3-0 series defeat.