The Springboks staged a dramatic second-half fightback from 15-6 down with ten minutes to go to score a converted try and vital penalty goal in to snatch the dramatic victory by 16-15.
“Credit to England – they had a good tactical plan and they put us under pressure,” said Nienaber.
“We’ll have to improve on that if New Zealand uses the same tactic (in the final). But one has to commend the strength of this team for the way they find a way to get a result.
“It took us 70 minutes to get a foothold in the match, and the players refused to give up and fought until the end. I’m very proud of them for that.”
Kolisi echoed his coach’s sentiments: “England are a world class team, and a very different team to a year ago. We had to dig deep to get the win and I’m proud of the way the players fought.”
The Bok skipper added: “It’s great to be in a position to defend our title. It was not about how ugly the game was, for us it was about South Africa winning the game.
“England were outstanding on the night with the way they played, and we had to fight to make it through to the final.”
They both praised the team effort, with the starting lineup laying a solid foundation for the replacements to make a big impact in the second half.
RG Snyman scored a late try, converted by Handre Pollard, who then added a 50m penalty goal to edge the Boks in front with two minutes left on the clock.
“They (Snyman’s try and Pollard’s penalty goal) were both big moments,” said Nienaber.
“Similarly, to 2019, we needed something special to break the game, and we scored the only try of the match against England, which was great.”
Asked if Kolisi had any doubt that Pollard would slot over the winning penalty goal he said: “I had no doubt at all that he would kick it. He’s done it for us before.
“But this victory was a squad effort. The bench and even the players who didn’t play made a massive contribution and that’s what makes everything work.”
Kolisi also praised the supporters for their passionate support and the inspiration they give the team – both from South Africa and the Africa as a whole.
“We feel and see the support, and even at our hotel one of our sponsors has a screen with all the messages of support,” said Kolisi.
“I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world where people go to the malls to watch our matches, and they do that in South Africa.
“As a team we are not only representing South Africa, but the whole African continent, and we appreciate the support.”
The team will have Sunday off to recover and will return to the training field on Monday to prepare for the final against New Zealand at the Stade de France on Saturday. The match kicks off at 21h00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.