They tried, oh how they tried.
But no matter the Bismarck du Plessis questions asked by the South African media contingent of Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer and skipper Jean de Villiers, the answer remained consistent: "We have only ourselves to blame for this defeat."
The only concessions to what they were no doubt thinking about how du Plessis' two yellow cards affected the result were a pointed reply by midfielder de Villiers of du Plessis' tackling technique, and Meyer's strained smile at the end of the inquisition, something he followed up with: "It was very nice being in New Zealand."
Asked how du Plessis was feeling after being shown a yellow card for his tackle on Dan Carter, in which the All Blacks first-five injured his shoulder, and another yellow - which resulted in a red - for his use of the elbow against Liam Messam, de Villiers said: "He's disappointed. Bismarck's a physical player, he's a very good tackler, and I think he executes his tackles very well."
The Springboks had headed into this test on top of the Rugby Championship and were confident they could beat the All Blacks and an Eden Park hoodoo which stretches back to 1937.
Despite being without hooker du Plessis, who was in commanding form, for 10 minutes of the first half, that confidence was still radiating at half-time despite the 17-10 All Blacks' lead.
"We didn't start well, but I felt in the last 10 minutes before half-time when we just scored [through du Plessis], we were very positive in the cloak-room," Meyer said.
De Villiers added: "The All Blacks are a tough team to play when you have 15 players on the field, when you have 14 it's a tough ask.
"We haven't won here for nearly 80 years, when you have 14 players it's not going to happen."