Resilience, belief, a composed last few minutes and a lot of bravery and brilliance from Jordie Barrett were the factors that swung the All Blacks a victory they never quite looked like securing in Townsville.
Against all the odds, the All Blacks won an arm wrestle against the Boks. They got sucked into a style of game they didn't want to, were forced into playing from set-piece to set-piece, unable to build any momentum or control the tempo, and yet they delivered the win.
It was the ugliest win they have enjoyed this year and one which exposed a few cracks and issues, but no one should lose sight of the fact that they won.
This young team found a way to survive the ordeal the South Africans put them through. They were physically attacked in a way they haven't been for an age, forced to play behind the gainline and indeed behind a set-piece that was creaking and exposed to a kicking onslaught that they never, but for the massive exception of Jordie Barrett, managed to deal with. And yet when the final whistle blew, the All Blacks had won.
South Africa made it a trial of the All Blacks' patience as much as anything else. They were as muscular as everyone imagined they would be and their defensive line moved at warp speed.
Where they perhaps surprised was with their dedication to their kicking game. Faf de Klerk was happy to hoist the ball even when the Boks were just 30 metres from the All Blacks tryline and in doing so confirmed that the Springboks have actually given up any and all other methods of attack.
That's what must have built a level of frustration within the All Blacks – knowing they were playing a team that had nothing but muscle and high balls to offer and yet there they were, refusing to budge, give anything or drift out of the contest.
That frustration could be seen in the All Blacks' execution. The mistakes piled up. Basic ones, mostly dropped passes. A team that has been largely polished and slick for most of the year was suddenly spilling ball, coughing it up at the breakdown and looking decidedly ragged.
It wouldn't be fair to say the All Blacks fell apart, but they nearly did. Their aerial work disintegrated in the second half and for periods they looked almost resigned to their fate, as if they knew they had been sucked into South Africa's trap and were powerless to stop it.
That's the South African effect. They got under the All Blacks' skin, rattled them a bit and forced the mistakes that they wanted to force.
And most importantly, they were able to play at the pedestrian pace they wanted.
The rest of the world might hate watching it and it is troubling how successful they can be with such a limited approach, but they have to be admired for making so little go so far.
South Africa, as was always likely given their need to deliver something better than the half-baked blundering they produced against the All Blacks, brought a tightness, urgency and accuracy that was more befitting of their world champion status.
They did exactly what they said they would and reverted to what they know best. But they did it well and when they do, they are a different team – frustratingly slow, lumbering and predictable and yet so difficult to budge or force into the higher tempo the All Blacks wanted.
There's no doubt either, that they were enabled by referee Luke Pearce to suck the life out of things with constant injury breaks, some of which took an age to clean up when there was blood.
There's a blood bin for a reason but thankfully some of these cynical ploys can now be tackled publicly because the All Blacks won and they won because Jordie Barrett dealt with their aerial bombardment brilliantly and bravely and then held his nerve to land the winning penalty.