"It certainly wasn't the start we wanted in our first Test at home and I was anxious because we had a lot of young players against a very experienced England side", said Erasmus.
The second half failed to match the first in terms of points but England could not avoid a fourth successive Test defeat, a miserable run of form that increases the pressure on coach Eddie Jones just over a year out from the 2019 World Cup. Pollard extended South Africa's advantage with a penalty, though the fly-half's effort was sandwiched between two misses that kept England in touch.
Electric debutant S'busiso Nkosi crossed twice to bring Ellis Park to his feet and, in between his two tries, Jones hauled off Nick Isiekwe - the Saracens lock who was making his full debut - and brought on the uncapped Brad Shields. Certainly compared with the recent Six Nations they were targeting opponents arriving at the breakdown and the result was. "This game has set the series up fantastically well".
Kolisi, who captained the Boks for the first time, said: "I was very nervous as we didn't expect to have such a tough time early in the game, but we have guys who had been in situations like that before".
The Springboks, with their first-ever black captain in Siya Kolisi and a new coach in Rassie Erasmus, powered their way back with five tries of their own after falling 24-3 behind in the early exchanges of a high-scoring and action-packed encounter but had to hold on grimly at the end for their narrow victory. "Kolisi will be a good captain, let's just hope he's not too good in this series". "It's an enormously symbolic thing for South African rugby and shows that transformation is working".
England at least emerged from a pulsating Johannesburg opener without any significant injury concerns, with Tom Curry and Daly suffering minor cramp and a dead leg respectively.
England’s Brad Shields and Ben Youngs are dejected after South Africa’s victory
"Faf was excellent", Jones said.
"That made for uncharacteristic individual errors which allowed South Africa back in the game".
The dream debut continued when he popped up on the opposite wing after a clever run from Le Roux created the space for fellow debutant Aphiwe Dyantyi to send him over.
Onlookers said that Bok fans leaned over railings above the tunnel and shouted insults at the Australian.
"We will have to try a few things next week and we will have to make big calls going forward, which probably means we'll lose some matches, but we have to get players exposed to test rugby and see if they have what it takes to make it at this level". A bloke said something, so I asked him where I can get a nice bottle of Pinotage and we can have a chat. "So, I think they'll learn a lot from that".