Coach Allister Coetzee said the 27-27 draw with Australia on Saturday showed the Springboks have turned around their Rugby Championship form after a record defeat by the All Blacks two weeks ago.
"We've been through a hell of an emotional week -- we've turned it around," he told a post-match media conference in Bloemfontein.
"I know we have to win, we must win... (but) this team is playing with width. (I am) very pleased and positive."
The result will be a welcome tonic for Coetzee after the dismal showing against the All Blacks, who humbled the Springboks 57-0 in Auckland a fortnight ago.
It was the heaviest loss suffered by South Africa in their 126-year history.
Several contentious moments in Bloemfontein included an apparent deliberate hair-pulling incident.
"Look, I think the referee dealt with it. I'll take a look at it and take the necessary steps," Coetzee said of the 36th-minute tackle in which Israel Folau appeared to intentionally pull the hair of Dillyn Leyds.
It caused Leyds to grimace in pain and fall to the pitch. No card was shown to Australia's full-back, but a penalty was given to the hosts after a brief touchline fracas.
Springboks skipper Eben Etzebeth was warned by the referee not to take matters into his own hands after he waded into the melee.
When asked if the penalty was sufficiently harsh, Etzebeth smiled and said: "I have no comment on that."
Leyds said: "It was 100 percent the hair -- he actually pulled me by the hair twice. I don't know what their version of the story is."
Australia coach Michael Cheika denied the winger's hair had been pulled, contrary to video evidence.
"By the time I got up, Eben (Etzebeth) had the situation all under control," he joked.
Following the Boks' barnstorming start to the second half that gave them a 17-13 lead after a try by Jan Serfontein, the Wallabies redoubled their efforts.
"We always pride ourselves on the set pieces... and obviously it's not where it should be at the moment," admitted Coetzee.
But he added: "It was a fantastic Test match -- the physicality was there and great tries were scored.
"(We) came out to play... and to work on that emotional scar we probably had from the New Zealand result."
Coetzee and Etzebeth said that the team's hopes are high ahead of their clash against the All Blacks in Cape Town next Saturday.
"We're really looking forward to that one," said Etzebeth.