And de Villiers was pleased that his Springboks side continued to fight to keep their Grand Slam dreams alive.
"I told the players they had let themselves down," said de Villiers. "But they could make it happen for themselves, I said to go back out and play. Make it happen.
"I'm a very positive person but I knew Wales could come back. We have the experience of that in the Tri Nations where we lost a game in the 80th minute to a penalty.
"But the players showed a lot of character. Our organisation was good and we made four offensive tackles which kept us in the game.
"The players showed what the jersey means to the team. We put in some real big hits at the end."
The Springboks' focus now shifts to the trip to Scotland and the Springboks' boss has insisted his side are focusing on one game at a time with England and the World Cup looming on the horizon.
"We have one focus and that is Scotland," added de Villiers.
"That's very important for us. We have to carry on the momentum we have gained but make sure that we just focus on one game at a time.
"A lot of things can happen in a week so we will just play that game and then we will start speaking about the final game.
"The World Cup is 10 months away. They could fire me. We could have injuries or lose form. There are a lot of things that could happen. We take it one game at a time. The confidence levels are improving for us."