Johannesburg: It may have been a dead rubber at the end of a long summer, but a resolute Australia scrapped hard in the field to secure a consolation win in Johannesburg and move up to No. 2 in the ODI rankings.
Australia took advantage of being given first use of an excellent batting pitch by South African captain Graeme Smith, making 303 for seven despite a mid-innings stumble.
Despite a second wicket stand of 104 between Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis, South Africa fell steadily behind the asking rate and wickets fell at regular intervals after Gibbs was out for 82.
The series win meant that South Africa retained their world number one ranking. Australia briefly slipped to third behind India after losing the fourth match in Port Elizabeth on Monday but returned to the number two spot with their consolation win.
South Africa won the series 3-2 following a 4-1 series win in Australia earlier in the series.
Earlier, South Africa won the toss and decided to send Australia in to bat in the fifth and final one-day international against Australia at the Wanderers Stadium on Friday.
Off-spinner Johan Botha, who was reported for a suspected illegal bowling action after the fourth match in Port Elizabeth on Monday, was rested.
Australia made one change, with Ben Laughlin replacing fellow fast bowler Shane Harwood.
Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke gave Australia a flying start when they put on 127 off 116 balls for the first wicket.
Haddin hit 62 off 64 balls and Clarke 66 off 69 as they put together their second successive century partnership. But they were out in quick succession.
Ponting (40) and Callum Ferguson (41) added 54 for the third wicket before Australia again struggled against South Africa's slow bowlers.
Brief Score: Australia 303/7 (Clarke 66, Haddin 62, Duminy 3-48) beat South Africa 256 (Gibbs 82, Kallis 64, Johnson 3-58) by 47 runs.