White and his squad headed for Dublin yesterday and an appointment with Ireland on the back of a 38-36 victory over Wales in Cardiff.
But a late Wales scoring flurry which produced tries by centre Gavin Henson and scrum-half Dwayne Peel took the home side within touching distance of a famous win.
New Zealand referee Paddy O’Brien played seven minutes’ injury-time, and White revealed the Millennium Stadium clock had totally baffled him.
The scoreboard digital clock displayed real time, rather than the norm of game time that southern hemisphere countries especially are used to, and led White to admit he made a substitution error.
“It said 80 minutes on the clock, but there were still another seven minutes to go, so I was a bit amazed by that,” he said.
White made three changes of personnel near the end, sending on Michael Claasens for Marius Joubert, Tim Dlulane instead of Schalk Burger and replacing heavyweight prop Os du Randt with Hanyani Shimange.
“Had I known there were seven or eight minutes left, I would have kept the experience of Os there, because I realised they would try to get to the corner and push us over,” said White.
South Africa were in complete control 10 minutes before half-time, leading 23-6, but Wales fought back when Springboks flanker Burger was sin-binned, and the Tri-Nations ultimately survived a major fright before claiming victory.
“At 23-6, I thought we had done enough to get away, but you have got to realise that when you play away from home you haven’t won until the final whistle goes. All credit to Wales, because most other sides would have given up hope,” said White.
Ireland, England and Scotland now stand in the way of South Africa and a tour clean sweep. It is a feat no Springboks side has managed since 1961.
“If I don’t believe it (a Grand Slam tour) can be done, then it’s pretty difficult to expect the players to believe it can be done,” said White.
“It would have been a disaster if we had lost the first game, it would have taken the momentum away from our tour. Saying that, Wales have gone close against the All Blacks, England and us (in the past 12 months).
“A lot of the people think you just run out against Wales at the Millennium Stadium and get it right, and they proved to our squad that you have got to be on your toes.”
: Wales: G. Thomas, Luscombe, Parker, Henson, S. Williams, S. Jones, Peel, D. Jones, S. Jones, A. Jones, Cockbain, Owen, D. Jones, Charvis, R. Jones. Replacements: Shanklin for Luscombe (61), Phillips for S. Williams (68), Jenkins for D. Jones (59), M. Davies for S. Jones (73), M. Williams for Charvis (72), Charteris for R. Jones (63).
: Tries: Henson 2, Peel. Cons: S. Jones 3. Pens: S. Jones 5.
: Montgomery, Paulse, Joubert, Barry, Willemse, van der Westhuyzen, du Preez, du Randt, Smit, Andrews, Botha, Matfield, Burger, Smith, van Niekerk. Replacements: Russell for Willemse (55), Shimange for du Randt (74), van der Linde for Andrews (59), Dlulane for Burger (74).
: Tries: van der Westhuyzen, van Niekerk, Russell, Montgomery. Cons: Montgomery 3. Pens: Montgomery 4.
: P O’Brien (New Zealand).