The Proteas put up a hard fight but were beaten by New Zealand Silver Ferns on day three of the Netball Quad Series in London on Tuesday.
Dorette Badenhorst's side committed a few errors in the opening minutes of the quarter with the Silver Ferns taking the quarter 15-9.
Nicola Smith made her second appearance of the tournament right at the start of the second quarter replacing Zanele Vimbela at Goal Defence. It was the Silver Ferns that continued with their dominance and won the quarter 16-10.
South Africa have yet to win a quarter during this tournament and broke that duck in the last quarter with a 15-11 quarter. However, New Zealand came up on top, winning the match 54-43.
Both teams will face off against each other for third place play off on Wednesday at the Copper Box Arena.
"We started very slowly as compared to how we wanted to start playing. We really had to grind hard for the first three quarters of the match, and we did very well in the last quarter," said Badenhorst.
"I will admit that we have a long way to go in terms of readiness. We are playing against players who are playing in professional leagues so we need to make sure that our players, who play locally should get more game time and get them on par with international counterparts."
South Africa will take on New Zealand on Wednesday at 19:30 CAT, which will be televised on SuperSport Action (SS10).
Q1 Proteas 9 - 15 New Zealand
Q2 Proteas 19 - 31 New Zealand
Q3 Proteas 28 - 43 New Zealand
Q4 Proteas 43 - 54 New Zealand