New Zealand can count themselves very unlucky - Du Plessis

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South Africa captain Faf du Plessis acknowledged his side had been "saved by the rain" after a final-day washout in Hamilton ensured the Proteas secured a series victory over New Zealand.

The Black Caps were well-positioned to win the third and final Test at Seddon Park and level the three-match rubber at 1-1, after claiming a first-innings lead of 175 and then reducing South Africa to 80-5 in their second innings.

However, no play was possible on Wednesday, meaning the Proteas' second-Test win in Wellington ultimately proved decisive.

"Everyone would say New Zealand can count themselves very unlucky. The rain has come at a terrible time for them," said a gracious Du Plessis.

"They dominated this Test match and deserved to have a crack at us today.

"It's a real fair assessment to say we've been saved by the rain."

Du Plessis' opposite number Kane Williamson, who struck 176 in New Zealand's first innings, was able to take heart from his team's fine performance in the absence of injured senior players Ross Taylor, Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

"The guys picked up the roles they were given with a number of players out and ran with it," said Williamson.

"There was a great buzz amongst the group, although fairly inexperienced and young, the guys really took it on and had a good time and enjoyed themselves.

"It's not easy to do at times in Test cricket, against one of the best nations and the contributions from all the boys throughout this match were fantastic."

Williamson - also a centurion in the series-opener in Dunedin - earned warm praise from Du Plessis, who added: "New Zealand played some good cricket, especially Kane.

"I would like to congratulate him on a good series. Two hundreds out of three games is extraordinary."