Danny Cipriani and Elton Jantjies each went into the third Test between the Springboks and England at Newlands with much to prove, each a talented player who sparkles at club and provincial level without having convinced of their suitability for Test rugby.
Each had been involved previously only on the fringes of the series, Jantjies off the Springboks' bench in the first Test at Ellis Park before missing the squad altogether in Bloemfontein, where Cipriani entered the fray late as a utility replacement for England.
If it seemed they were bit-part players lacking the complete confidence of their respective coaches, cynics might have suggested their selection to start in Cape Town was more about disproving their longer-term value to their teams than it was to give them a chance.
Neither, then, would have enjoyed the sight of rain pelting down in the hours before kick-off. Conditions were already heavy, and neither, as players who like to attack close to the gainline, would have wanted greasy ball in what shaped potentially as a career-deciding match; they'd likely be grateful just to get through the 80 minutes.
Jantjies was lucky to get through 58 minutes before he was replaced by Handre Pollard.
Such was the horror of his performance, featuring missed goalkicks, dropped balls and poor decisions, that he received the fans' biggest cheers of the game when he exited the action. This was indeed a sad moment. If he had held a genuine measure of Rassie Erasmus' confidence heading into the Test, he will surely be fortunate to retain it.
Cipriani, meanwhile, didn't do a lot; but what he did was crucial to England's first victory over South Africa at Newlands, in what is reported to be the last Test at the Cape Town venue.
He produced a couple of pieces of sleight of hand that featured in England's best moments of the drab first 40 minutes, and his cross-kick that set up England's try, by Jonny May in the 72nd minute, was a thing of rare beauty -- clearly the best individual moment of the fixture.
Under extreme pressure from two Springboks defenders, one cannot overstate the exquisite weighting and trajectory of his kick to space; May still had work to do to touch down for the match-clinching score, but he we would have been able to do so had Cipriani's kick been even one metre different. It will surely not be another 10 years before he starts another Test for England.
"I said before the game that we might not have many opportunities, and that he'd be possibly good enough to take the opportunity," England coach Eddie Jones said when asked about Cipriani's game. "And he did.
"There was one opportunity for us to score a try -- beautifully weighted kick -- and we scored. So I'm sure he's going to be on the front page of The Sun."
Cipriani's composure and ability to execute, to spot the space behind the Springboks' defensive alignment was illustrative of the tourists' broader improvement after their defeats in the first two Tests.
"We handled the bigger moments better today," Jones said at the post-match press conference.
"If you look back at the previous two Tests we put ourselves into a position to win the games, but when the scoreboard changed we hadn't handled those situations well.
"Today we kept our composure and just focused on the next play. It was good leadership by the players out there."
Jones had bemoaned his side's discipline after the previous Tests, but he received a much better effort in Cape Town where the penalty count was 14-6 in favour of the tourists. The coach said the improved discipline was simply a result of having had one more week together as a group.
"Discipline is a matter of trusting your team mates, trusting the system and not trying to solve things by yourself," Jones said.
"The team was over-eager to play well [in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein], they felt the pressure of the scoreboard and of losing some games. Today we just focused on playing each play well."
Jones paid tribute to Jonny May and Tom Curry for their efforts through the tour, saying the winger had been "outstanding all tour" and the young backrower had "got a lot of potential".
Jones was also "glad to see [Chris] Robshaw play so well".
"He'd been out of form. Bounced back today [and] gave real leadership."