Bloemfontein: Michael Cheika believes the Wallabies worked hard enough to get a win on the Highveld and says he is proud of the resilience they showed despite coming away from South Africa with only a 27-27 draw to show for their efforts.
Australia suffered more heartbreak against the Springboks, drawing for the second time this year after a frenetic final few minutes which saw South African No.10 Elton Jantjies miss an 80th-minute penalty that would have won his side the match.
The Wallabies led 27-24 with 10 minutes remaining, thanks to two second-half tries from Marika Koroibete and another five-pointer to Israel Folau to get the ball rolling in the 11th minute for the visitors.
South Africa kicked a penalty to level scores and that was the last points for the evening in what was the third draw between the two sides from 88 games.
"Obviously [we're] very disappointed," Cheika said. "I thought we worked hard enough to get a win but it wasn't to be. What I was pleased about was the resilience we showed.
"They came with the strategy to try and run us out of puff on the Highveld. They just started playing from the first play and what we didn't do is perhaps get our tackles better.
"We managed the altitude fitness-wise. It came down to a few little bits and pieces here or there for not winning the match."
Asked how the result compared to the feeling three weeks ago in Perth when the Wallabies finished with a 23-23 draw, Cheika replied: "Playing away from home it feels a little bit better, not a lot. We want to win footy matches.
"Our fans are getting up late in Australia to watch us play. They probably would have enjoyed the match and they would have enjoyed the courage we showed. We kept coming back with resilience. We want to win rugby matches. I know it will come."
The Wallabies came within a whisker of winning just their second match at altitude in South Africa since 1963 but can walk away from Bloemfontein with their heads held high.
Five-eighth Bernard Foley was tremendous, while Kurtley Beale, who was awarded man-of-the-match honours, kept his side in the contest with another excellent performance at a ground he has tasted success at before.
While the scoreline might show an even result, the Wallabies will no doubt be heartbroken knowing they came so close to claiming a slice of history.
"It is a tough place to win and I am yet to win up here which sucks for me and the rest of the boys," captain Michael Hooper said. "We did some really good things tonight and this week and we couldn't get the bickies. Disappointing, but a step in the right direction.
"We certainly were blowing. It was tough, it was fast. That 50 to 70-minute mark was really, really tough. I'm proud of the guys to stick in there and keep throwing shots, keep throwing punches. It's an improvement."
Folau was embroiled in a scuffle in the 37th minute after supposedly pulling winger Dillyn Leyds to the ground by his hair.
Despite replays suggesting otherwise, Cheika refuted the claim Folau pulled any hair.
Meanwhile, Folau's early five-pointer saw him break the Australian record for the most tries (11) scored in a calendar year.
The Wallabies fullback drew level in Australia's previous outing in Canberra and has now gone past Lote Tuqiri to etch his name into the history books, putting him just six tries short of the world record with six Tests remaining in 2017.
Australia's attack looked potent and whenever they were deep in enemy territory they usually found a way to come away with points.
"We want to attack, that's our thing," Cheika said. "We've got a good back line that can make things happen but like in rugby, everything depends on the platform. The thing I liked about the backs is they worked hard on defence."
The Wallabies will now travel to Buenos Aires to prepare for a match against Argentina on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) in Mendoza.
"It is a tough trip, there's no doubt about it," Hooper said. "We've got a really good plan about how we tackle that.
"You've got to come over these hurdles and overcome these speed bumps and we've done it before, so we'll be leaning on some of the guys who have to help the younger guys get on the flight, enjoy the flight and then turn up in Mendoza."