They were in tears at the end of the game. The best team in the world had been denied again. This time under the captaincy of AB de Villiers, who has the highest average in the history of World Cup cricket.
In what would prove to be the batting great's last match at cricket's grand event in 2015, South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first against hosts New Zealand in Auckland.
The start wasn't as planned - both openers, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock, departing with only 31 runs on the board.
Their combined failure meant Rilee Rossouw and Faf du Plessis had to soak in the pressure and hold the innings together. In doing so, the duo ended up scoring their runs at a strike rate of around 75.
As the game was reduced to 43 overs after a downpour, somebody had to step up and get some quick runs on the board to take the team to a respectable first-innings total.
Skipper AB de Villiers proved to be that man. First, he put on 103 runs with du Plessis, who scored 82 runs, to give South Africa the perfect foundation for a big finish.
Then out came David Miller with just a little over four overs to go. The blitzkrieg he unleashed saw South Africa get 17 and 20 runs off the 40th and 41st over respectively. Miller went on to score 49 off 18 deliveries, a knock studded with six hits to the fence and three maximums. He was out just before the end of innings.
De Villiers scored 65 off 45 balls, carving eight deliveries to the boundary and smashing one over it to take the Proteas to a handy total of 281/5 in 43 overs. The Duckworth-Lewis method raised the Kiwi target to a hefty 298.
The hosts started off well with skipper Brendon McCullum racing to 59 off 26 deliveries before South Africa hit back to reduce their opponents to 149/4.
But soon came a match-turning 103-run partnership between Corey Anderson and Grant Elliot. Needing five runs to win from two deliveries, Elliot went on to finish the game in style with a six over long on. Dale Steyn, the bowler, couldn't believe what had happened and a lot of the Proteas were on the ground with their face buried in their palms.
Some were consoled, but the fact remained that they had fallen short again. De Villiers later said the game was his 'greatest disappointment' and it would take the team days to recover from the shock.
What de Villiers cannot be denied though is his record on cricket's biggest stage. With 1207 runs from 23 matches at an average of 65.23, the South African great remains one of the most prolific batsmen in the history of the event.