The Wallabies remain winless in Pretoria, after an 18-10 loss to South Africa on Sunday morning.
Springboks flyhalf Morne Steyn inflicted much of the pain, scoring all 18 of South Africa’s points in the Rugby Championship clash.
South Africa’s victory was by no means emphatic, but it is one that somewhat loosened the pressure valve that has been constricting the Srpingboks, who avoided their first four-Test losing streak since 2010-11
Steyn drew first blood, with a surprise drop goal in the fifth minute for South Africa, a move with which he book-ended the match.
The Wallabies weren’t so willing to play simply for field position, looking threatening in attack early on as their phase counts racked up.
A seventh-minute penalty gave Bernard Foley Australia’s first points of the night and handed the momentum to the Australians.
It was loosehead Scott Sio who found the only five-pointer of the match in the 14th minute, after a burst from flanker Michael Hooper, with the Brumbies prop taking advantage of a Springboks defensive hole.
The Wallabies tried to utilise superboot Reece Hodge at altitude, but the 22-year-old missed his three shots at goal in the loss, just some of the missed chances Australia was left to rue.
South Africa wrestled back the ascendancy from there, with an Israel Folau yellow card in the 34th minute compounding their concerns, before a 40th minute penalty put the Springboks in front.
Sean McMahon had another impressive performance for the Wallabies but his return to the starting side was cut short by an ankle injury.
The ferocious number eight was missed in the back half, with Australia lacking his physical presence in the breakdown and forced into a reshuffle with blindside flanker Scott Fardy his replacement, playing alongside Dean Mumm and Michael Hooper.
Australia’s lineout issues reared their head once again, despite a plethora of jumping options with Fardy’s injection early in the second half.
The Wallabies coughed up three lineouts from 15 set piece chances, against a strong Springboks second row including Pieter Steph Du Toit, Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager.
A back-half arm wrestle turned the Springboks way a penalty and drop goal from Steyn in the final five minutes sealed the result.
Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, who played out a rare 80-minute performance in Pretoria, said his side didn't take advantage of the opportunities presented.
"The second half was disappointing, I thought we had a fair few chances there," he said, speaking to FOX SPORTS post-match.
"We didn’t hold on to the ball long enough but opportunities were there to score points. I thought we had a good crack, our effort was good, but execution let us down a bit."
"The scrum was a bit disappointing in the last 20.
"We let them back into the game through that part of the game, which we knew they’d look t go to. We held them out for most of the game but that last period was disappointing.
Australia heads to London on Sunday ahead of the last Rugby Championship match, against Argentina at Twickenham.
South Africa 18
Pens: Steyn 4 Drop: Steyn 2)