Long-range strikes from Frans Steyn and an intercept try by Jean de Villiers helped South Africa secure a 32-29 victory over hosts New Zealand and win their first Tri-Nations title since 2004.
|New Zealand's defence get to grips with South Africa's Bakkies Botha [GALLO/GETTY]
South Africa, who needed one competition point to win the title, finished with 21 points.
The All Blacks (nine) now meet Australia (seven) in the final match in Wellington next week.
It was the third successive loss by the All Blacks to the Springboks, and the first time since 1949 that they had lost three successive games in the same year to South Africa.
"It was tough, really tough, at the end there my heart was in my throat," Springboks coach Peter de Villiers said.
"It was as tough as it gets. The All Blacks aren't a walkover. To play them in their backyard, it's a great honour to come out victorious."
Steyn slotted three penalties from inside his own territory for the Springboks, who took advantage of countless All Blacks' errors at a sold-out Waikato Stadium.
Time and again the All Blacks dropped the ball from high kicks, or made line breaks and then knocked the ball forward to release any pressure they had been building up, while a woefully malfunctioning lineout failed to give them an attacking platform.
"We turned over too much ball," said All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
"We didn't have a lot of structure up front in the set piece in the first half and when we did look likely we turned the ball over in the tackle, so that was frustrating."
The All Blacks opened the scoring in the first minute when Daniel Carter got his first penalty after a Springboks' indiscretion straight from the opening kickoff.
South Africa fullback Steyn emphatically warned the All Blacks of the dangers of testing referee Nigel Owens's rule interpretations when he converted the first of his three first-half, long-range penalties from 60 metres.
He added further strikes from 57 metres and 55 metres, while flyhalf Morne Steyn got a 35-metre dropgoal and converted Fourie du Preez's first-half try that came from a series of All Blacks' mistakes following a dropped high kick.
Morne Steyn added a short-range penalty when Kieran Read was penalised for a shoulder charge on Bryan Habana before Carter took his fourth penalty shortly before the break.
Carter's skip pass in the 49th minute went directly to De Villiers who cantered away from 45 metres out. Morne Steyn added the conversion to give the visitors a 29-12 lead.
The All Blacks finally got some momentum in the last 20 minutes and an Isaia Toeava break, shortly after he came on as a replacement, set up Sitiveni Sivivatu.
A furious final five minutes pushed them close to achieving an unlikely victory.
Captain Richie McCaw caught a cross kick from Carter to score in the corner while Carter added the sideline conversion to drag the All Blacks to 32-29 with seconds remaining.
The home side stormed back 80 metres from the re-start and with the fulltime hooter having sounded, Carter repeated the tactic but the ball drifted just over lock Isaac Ross's outstretched fingertips and into touch, ending the All Blacks' four-year stranglehold on the title.