Gio Aplon raised his hand Saturday for a place in the Europe-bound Springboks squad as he helped Western Province reach a second consecutive Currie Cup final.
Springbok Gio Aplon passes the ball during a public training session in Wellington on September 13, 2011
The full-back won rave reviews from former national team coach Nick Mallett and fly-half Naas Botha after his try triggered a 33-16 victory over Lions in Cape Town.
Title-holders Province host Sharks next Saturday in a repeat of the 2012 decider after the Durban outfit won 33-22 at home to Cheetahs in the other semi-final.
Johannesburg-based Lions led twice early and were trailing by only one point late in the opening half at Newlands when Aplon made his mark.
Receiving possession in a crowded midfield, the 'Pocket Rocket' found a way past several would-be tacklers before unleashing his pace to dive over in the corner.
The superb solo score gave Province breathing space and after turning over 18-9 ahead, the were never seriously threatened during the second half.
"Gio is a fantastic player who has great feet and constantly breaks the line," 1999 Springboks Rugby World Cup coach Mallett said on the SuperSport TV channel.
Botha also lavished praise on the 31-year-old who scored five tries in 17 Test appearances, but has been constantly overlooked by current coach Heyneke Meyer.
"I cannot understand why Gio is not in the national squad -- he is such a consistently good performer at Super Rugby and Currie Cup levels."
South Africa play Wales, Scotland and France during November with the touring squad due to be announced two days after the Currie Cup final.
The flair of Aplon was a constant threat while fly-half Demetri Catrakilis punished Lions' indiscipline with five penalties and also scored a try and kicked a conversion.
A couple of penalties from substitute fly-half Kurt Coleman completed the scoring for the record 32-time champions.
Playmaker Elton Jantjies slotted three penalties for Lions and full-back Marnitz Boshoff -- the leading Currie Cup scorer with 92 points -- converted a Warren Whiteley try.
Patrick Lambie, second-choice Springboks fly-half this season behind Morne Steyn, contributed 23 points for Sharks with a try, three conversions and four penalties.
A try each from two substitutes, veteran forward Jacques Botes and back Heimar Williams, completed the tally for the home side, who led 16-7 at half-time.
Former Springboks full-back and centre Francois Steyn, back after an injury lay-off since May, had a quiet game for Sharks.
Flanker 'Lappies' Labuschagne, centre Johann Sadie and prop Schalk van der Merwe scored Cheetahs' tries, right-wing Riaan Smit kicked a conversion and fly-half Johan Goosen a conversion and a penalty.
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