Mercurial fullback Willie le Roux had a hand in four of South Africa's five tries as they outmuscled Wales 38-16 in the first test at King's Park in Durban on Sunday.
Le Roux's electric display set alight a contest that was otherwise strewn with set-piece and handling errors.
He scored one excellent individual try and created two others for wing Bryan Habana.
Cornall Hendricks and number eight Duane Vermeulen also crossed the line for the hosts.
Wales offered little in the Springboks' 22 until the final 15 minutes and were made to pay for a timid first half display.
Their only try came following a break in his own half by wing Alex Cuthbert, which was converted by replacement first five James Hook.
Dan Biggar landed two drop-goals and a penalty.
The only consolation for Wales was their New Zealand coach Warren Gatland being awarded an OBE in Britain's Queen's Birthday honours.