Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer admitted he made the "wrong call" to allow Morne Steyn to continue as the goal-kicker in Dunedin.
In a windless and dry indoor facility at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, South Africa's normally failsafe fly-half landed only one of five attempts while Bok center Francois Steyn also missed three penalties.
Young fly-half Johan Goosen landed his only attempt after replacing Morne Steyn late in the second half to cut New Zealand's lead briefly before Aaron Cruden finished with two late goals.
Granted, several of the Steyns' penalties were from long range, but the Springboks potentially left 20 points on the field in what was a defining factor in their 21-11 loss.
"I've always said that I am going to bring Johan Goosen through slowly and give him game time," said Meyer.
"But Johan had struggled with his goal-kicking in training during the week and he is still only 20 years old, and he hasn't played for almost three months.
"I thought he did superbly for the 25 minutes he was on the field. But you don't just change your fly-half for someone to kick - you could also change the goal-kicker.
"We talked about that at half-time. But I thought Morné would hit his rhythm. Sitting here afterwards, it is easy to make calls, but it is a life-and-death situation for me, so maybe I made the wrong call. But Morné usually comes back and kicks well."
Goosen proved yet again that he is able to handle Test rugby, and could be pushing for a starting spot for South Africa's next Test against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld on September 30.
"I've always rated Goosen," added Meyer.
"I watched him play as a youngster, and it is a pity he got injured because he was always part of my plan, but I don't want to throw him to the wolves.
"So, last week it was 10 minutes, this week it was 25 minutes. He is a guy with a lot of character and mental toughness.
"But Morné has also shown in the past that he has mental toughness, so it is great to have two fly-halves like that. It's great that Johan is coming through and showing the promise that I believe he has. I will look at the video, take the emotion out of it and maybe make a few hard calls if I have to when we go home."