Reuters - Sat, 12 Jun 15:25:00 2010
The diminutive Aplon celebrated his first Test on home soil with two superb solo tries that broke the Six Nations champions' resolve and earned him the man-of-the-match award.
The Springboks netted a further three tries through their forwards on a day when the visitors were outplayed up front and regularly harried off the ball at the breakdowns.
"It was an important week for us to get a result and they were a good team," said Springbok captain John Smit.
"It was always going to be a very hyped-up game between the Tri-Nations and Six Nations champions and a week all about distractions and there were several of them.
"I was very happy with the start. The intent was there from the beginning. We were direct, accurate and it resulted in two early tries."
The home side enjoyed a spectacular start, racing to a 14-0 lead after nine minutes and a 25-7 advantage with half an hour played.
Number eight Pierre Spies scored the first of three Springbok first-half tries when he dived over underneath the posts following a French mistake in the second minute.
France centre David Marty threw a loose pass on halfway that was intercepted by winger Bryan Habana, who in turn fed centre Jaque Fourie. The veteran midfielder, playing his 56th Test, was quickly closed down but had the vision to feed an unmarked Spies on his left.
Aplon, who made his Test debut against Wales last weekend, got onto the scoresheet in the eighth minute when he bumped off centre Maxime Mermoz, before rounding the cover defence.
Steyn added the extra points before slotting two penalties to give his side a 20-0 lead.
France opened their account on the half hour when winger Aurelien Rougerie was freed down the right touchline for an easy run-in after the first sustained period of French pressure.
Scrumhalf Morgan Parra kicked the conversion and an injury-time penalty, but not before Springbok loose-head Gurthro Steenkamp scored his side's third try after Steyn floated a long pass to the unmarked prop forward standing on the tramlines.
Steyn extended the lead to 18 points soon after the restart when a French scrum infringement gifted the fly-half three points from in front.
No sooner had play restarted than it was sevens star Aplon who brought the 46,885-strong crowd to their feet when he picked up a loose ball near his own line before sprinting away on a diagonal run for a length-of-the-field try.
The remainder of the half was characterised by numerous mistakes from both sides. The point-scoring drought was eventually ended when flanker Francois Louw barged over for his team's fifth try with five minutes remaining.
The visitors notched a consolation try through replacement winger Marc Andreu, converted by yet another substitute, David Skrela.
France coach Marc Lievremont lamented his team's poor start.
"It's very difficult to find words to describe this match because we came with great intentions but things didn't go as planned," he said.
"We had difficulty this week in preparing our team and we aren't going to hide behind the fact that the (soccer) World Cup did not make things easy.
"We are as physical as we should be at this level but the South Africans are opportunistic and the moment you make a mistake you're done for. And when you make those mistakes in the first fifteen minutes you can't come back."