Springboks wingers Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi scored two tries apiece as South Africa rallied in the second half to beat Argentina 34-21 in their Rugby Championship opener at Kings' Park on Saturday.
The Springboks outscored the Pumas by six tries to three, but again they made heavy work of claiming victory before finishing strongly.
Lukhanyo Am and Faf de Klerk scored South Africa's other tries, while Nicolas Sanchez, Pablo Matera and Matias Moroni crossed the line for Argentina.
"We didn't start well as we made a lot of mistakes, which was disappointing because we've been working hard on our discipline over the last weeks," South Africa captain Siya Kolisi said.
"But as much as we were making mistakes, the effort gets better every week."
The Springboks trailed 14-5 after 30 minutes, but they reduced the deficit to four points by halftime and then scored four tries after the interval to ensure a winning start to the annual southern hemisphere competition.
But there will be concerns for coach Rassie Erasmus after flyhalf Handre Pollard succeeded with just one of six goalkicks and the hosts, turning down kickable penalties to go for touch instead, botched the resultant close-in lineouts.
Am opened the scoring after eight minutes but Argentina hit back quickly as they took advantage of errors to see Sanchez and Matera over the tryline.
Dyantyi, named man of the match, carried over a superb cross field kick from Willie Le Roux to launch the hosts' recovery before the break, and he went over again two minutes after the interval as the Boks took control.
Mapimpi, in his second Test, scored two tries in a five- minute spell before Moroni's intercept try reduced the hosts' lead to 27-21 with just over 10 minutes left.
De Klerk, however, darted over for the sixth home try as consistent pressure wore down the Pumas defence.
The teams meet again in Mendoza next week.