Germany scored first-half field goals through the legendary Natascha Keller, playing her 432nd Test match, in the sixth minute, Maike Stockel a minute later and Katharina Otte six minutes from the changeover.
Lisa Hahn established a four-goal cushion from field play 13 minutes after the break when she found space to unfurl a stunning reverse-stick strike into the far corner for 4-0.
Germany’s captain Fanny Rinne roofed a penalty stroke seven minutes from the end before South Africa’s world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee nailed a low penalty corner drag-flick into the backboard in the dying seconds.
It was Coetzee’s 242nd successful strike in 246 Test matches.
Germany moved the ball with impressive precision and accuracy and was lethal in the strike zone while SA, who worked hard, had opportunities but didn’t capitalise. SA won five penalty corners to Germany’s three, while the chances to score from field play were shared just about equally.
The South Africans all had their moments but on the whole it was in the consistent application of the detail that they fell short.
This Four Nations presents a great chance for three of the countries in Pool B at the London 2012 Olympic Games – Germany, world number six New Zealand and SA – to size each other up, while the fourth team, world 16 Belgium, are in Pool A.
SA meet New Zealand at 4 pm Saturday while the Germans tackle Belgium at 1.30 pm. Sunday’s final round sees the Belgians meet SA at 12 noon before Germany bring down the Four Nation tournament’s final curtain at 2.30 pm against New Zealand.
In Thursday’s earlier match, New Zealand had a razor-sharp start to lead Belgium 3-1 at half-time before running out 4-2 victors. The workmanlike Belgians had a much better second half but it was not enough to turn the tide.