Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis says that the loss of seamer Vernon Philander on day one of the third Test against England was a killer blow to the team.
Philander was man of the match in the second Test in Nottingham but had his involvement in the Oval Test limited by a bug that sent him to hospital.
The Proteas were well beaten in the end with England scoring a 239 run victory to retain the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy.
Du Plessis said after the loss: "Vern's such a good player you'd almost take him at 50%
"The plan was to win the toss, bat and give him a day to get better, so not to have him for two days was a big loss."
The captain conceded that while they were unlucky not to have Philander, England batted very well to get past 350, largely thanks to a gutsy ton from Ben Stokes.
He added: "It's obvious to say someone like Vernon Philander missing out on that first innings was costly.
"They got 100 runs too many in that innings, but you have to say England batted well."
Losing the toss has proven costly for both skippers in this series so far and the Proteas ended up getting the worst of a sporting Oval pitch at the end of day two.
Du Plessis went on: "The end of day two was probably the most difficult conditions you'll see in Test cricket.”
The Proteas’skipper is confident that his charges will know what they need to work on ahead of the fourth and final Test that starts at Old Trafford in Manchester on Friday.
He said: "It's been a strange series – mistakes were made in this Test, we don't have to scratch our heads to know what to do about it.
"Dean's knock was amazing, and something our batters can look towards to make sure they go out and fight.
"We lost most of our main batters yesterday but the guys fought really well today so there are positives to take. Dean showed us what was needed."