South Africa captain John Smit was left with mixed emotions after his side lost 28-9 to the British and Irish Lions in the third Test.
The Springboks had already secured the series with victory in the first two Tests but failed to match an inspired display from the Lions in Johannesburg.
Smit admitted the Lions fully deserved their triumph in the dead rubber but also insisted his men were satisfied to walk away with a 2-1 series success.
"We have lost today but we have a series win behind us," he said.
"If we had asked this group the day after the World Cup if they would take a 2-1 series win against the Lions, they would have all taken it.
"Today the Lions were all over us in every department. They were better than us, they had more intensity and it was a well deserved victory.
"It makes us appreciate the series victory all the more knowing we played a top Lions side."
Smit insisted the intensity and competitiveness of the Test series proved the Lions concept has a vital place in the increasingly congested international rugby calendar.
"It was an amazing experience from start to finish, from the day they arrived," added the veteran prop.
"It is still one of the most prized things rugby has to offer.
"The toughness of game, the competitiveness of the series, how close it was.
"If anything should be kept, the Lions should be kept."