Hartley’s club-mate Courtney Lawes scored on his 50th England appearance, while Tom Wood was also impressive from the off as Eddie Jones’ men earned a convincing 37-21 victory at Twickenham to end a 12-game winless run against the Springboks which stretched back to November 2006.
Asked whether the success was worth the decade-long wait, England skipper Hartley said: “Certainly. I think plenty to work on though so it keeps us grounded; six penalties (conceded) in the opening 20 minutes is not good enough.
“We’ll take this today but there’s plenty to work on for next week, discipline being the key area, but it’s the start of our series and we’re very happy to get that monkey off our back, obviously 10 years.
“Very proud of the guys, we’ve obviously got some new caps as well. I think the finishers came off the bench and added a lot to the game today.”
The result means England have now won 10 out of 10 under head coach Jones.
Victory rarely looked in doubt, with Lawes, Jonny May, George Ford and Owen Farrell all scoring.
Johan Goosen and Willie le Roux replied with tries for South Africa, but it wasn’t enough.
And Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss said: “(It was) a very tough game, credit to England. I think tactically they were very good. We knew we were going to face a hard ball, they were very excellent in doing that and we couldn’t deal with that. We couldn’t turn that into attacks for us.
“I think we started off well, just couldn’t do that for 80 minutes.
“First of all, we need to get into the right areas and then hang on to the ball. It sounds like an old cliche but it’s about pressure, especially at Test match level, and we just couldn’t get that pressure on the England team.
“We felt that pressure throughout the whole game, especially after the first couple of minutes.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game but we’re very disappointed about the loss and we’ll have a hard look at ourselves and definitely fight back.”