Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma admitted they were outplayed after an embarrassing 43-run loss against Ireland in the second ODI on Tuesday.
SCORECARD | Ireland v SA, 2nd ODI
The South Africans now stare a series defeat in the face ahead of Friday's third and final encounter, after the first ODI was abandoned due to rain.
Bavuma elected to field first with the Proteas bowling attack struggling to break partnerships as Irish skipper Andy Balbirnie scored his seventh ODI century.
Balbirnie led from the front, top-scoring with 102 off 117 deliveries, while Harry Tector also contributed 79 to push Ireland to a demanding total of 290 for 5.
The Proteas' bowling performance was average, but their fielding was horrific as the visitors dropped four vital catches that could've shortened Ireland's onslaught.
Andile Phehlukwayo took two wickets for an expensive 73 runs, while Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi took one scalp each.
"We were totally outplayed in all facets of the game. With the decision to bowl first, you're always looking to strike up front and unfortunately we weren't able to do that," Bavuma told reporters on after the match.
"We didn't create enough chances and throughout the innings we weren't able to exploit conditions. We had the run-rate in check but going through that last phase, I think they had about 100 in the last 10. It was a criminal for us.
"From a fielding point of view, we didn't rock up. If you compare our fielding to theirs, it was chalk and cheese."
Chasing 291 for victory, the Proteas were in early trouble at 51/2 with the departures of Aiden Markram (5) and Bavuma (10). A vital 108-run third-wicket partnership between opener Janneman Malan and Rassie van der Dussen soon developed.
Malan scored 84 off 96 deliveries (7 fours and four sixes), while Van der Dussen made 49 before the Proteas lost too many wickets and were eventually bowled out for 247 in 48.3 overs.
"With the bat, there was nothing meaningful that came about besides Janneman but he never got support from the other guys. We were totally outplayed and need to bounce back stronger," said Bavuma.
The third and final ODI is scheduled for Friday at 11:45 (SA time).