In his BusinessDay column, Rich said that Springbok minds must have wondered if they were set to endure another defeat like the 0-57 loss they suffered in 2017 at Albany.
"The hosts got the bit between their teeth from the kickoff, and in the first 20 minutes, their tempo looked set to bury the Boks under a tidal wave of black jerseys.
"However, it didn't quite turn out like that. The tidal wave ran out of impetus, and the Boks fought back well enough to suggest that had it not been for the bizarre TMO call against what looked like a good Cheslin Kolbe try and a few elementary errors, they could have been pressing for victory at the final whistle."
The outcome, which could have been a blow to Springbok confidence and morale, was avoided.
Rich said it appeared Nienaber accepted the attempt to reduce the effects of travel fatigue, and giving fringe players game time may have had more to do with the loss than anticipated.
"Whereas most of the All Blacks who took early control of the game had been battle-hardened and sharpened by their win over Argentina, the bulk of the SA starting team was getting their first feel of a rugby match in this international season."
There had been a lot of rust in both the South African Tests against Australia and New Zealand.
Rich said South Africa should be concerned about the performance and result against the All Blacks.
"Their stated intent was to win the Rugby Championship, and it will now take a miracle to do that. The performance had too many flaws in it for there not to be concern."
While South Africa got back in the game, the final 15-point margin was not a guide to how close they got to winning.
"The All Blacks did have the composure to still score the points that mattered later on, but there were stages of the second half where it looked like the momentum had swung so completely against the hosts that the 17-point deficit after 15 minutes would be overturned."
Rich did not think the Springboks would be as poor again. There were comparisons to how South Africa started in last year's Test in Mbombela, but South Africa was not as clinical finishing that game as the All Blacks were in Auckland.