South Africa took time to shrug off the rust as they returned after a 20-month absence to beat Georgia 40-9 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday in their first Test since winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The match was the first of two warm-up internationals against the Georgians in preparation for the three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions.
The home side led 19-9 at halftime and outscored their visitors six tries to nil, but they showed the effects of their long absence, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as they struggled to get rhythm to their play, gave away many penalties, and were sloppy at times in a contest punctuated by frequent stoppages.
"It's what we expected, it took us a whole half to get momentum going," South Africa captain Siya Kolisi said.
"It was a tough challenge and there is still a lot to work on.
"We are patient. We knew it would be slow and then the opportunities began to open up."
The Springbpks were outmuscled in the first scrum, allowing Georgia to go ahead with a penalty, but that proved one of the few highlights for the tourists.
The hosts scored the first try when debutant Aphelele Fassi streaked away with his first touch of the ball after five minutes, and a pushover try from Bongi Mbonambi and a dart to the line by scrumhalf Cobus Reinach added to the first-half score.
There were more tries after the break from Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies and Malcolm Marx, while Handre Pollard kicked four conversions and his replacement, Elton Jantjies, landed one.
Georgia's points all came from penalties kicked by Tebo Abzhandadze, and they did not score in the final 55 minutes, but they will take encouragement from some tough defending against a home side that was perhaps expecting an easier outing.
"Silly mistakes made the score bigger than we wanted it to be," Georgia skipper Merab Sharikadze said.
"The Springboks don't miss those opportunities."
South Africa, who had not played a home Test in 688 days, host Georgia in the second Test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg next Friday. They play the first Test against the British & Irish Lions on July 24, in Cape Town.