The home team controlled territory and possession throughout the contest but only had a lone Rosko Specman try to show for their dominance early on and went into the break 14-7 down.
The nippy flyer ghosted through a gap close to the NZ line after some slick build-up play by the Blitzboks, to give the home team the ideal start to a match where several permutations were possible before kick-off.
Samoa, who had beaten NZ earlier in the day, needed a Blitzboks win to advance to the Cup quarterfinals at NZ’s expense.
SA, barring a massive defeat, were through to the last eight anyway, but even so, winning the Pool was not guaranteed.
After the break tries from Werner Kok and Branco du Preez gave SA the lead but NZ did what they always do, and rallied to win with two late tries.