Planet Rugby

Preview from the Far Side

23rd December 2009 12:33

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Far side christmas 2009

North v South: Donnchien O'Chabalahan and Richie McBurger

It's the match the whole planet has been waiting for: The annual December 25 Polar derby between the Northern Bears and the Southern Penguins at the Stade de Frigid.

The South look set to continue their dominance of the cross-hemisphere exchanges in recent years, although the bitterly cold weather could stifle the Penguin backs.

After leading his side to a 37-10 hammering of the Bears last year, Southern superstar Richie McBurger is back to skipper the Penguins once again.

After recovering from a left-intercostal-earlobe-defragmentation the stalwart flanker is back to his best form and fans at the 40 000 seater igloo will be hoping for a master display of rucking and typical McBurger driving-through.

As usual the North will be relying heavily on their pack, especially up at scrum-time. Unfortunately for the Northerners, Danitrew Sherizewski and Marlos Horiento are both absent through injury, but Sylvain Castroconnet, Willi Flannervat and Gethien Jencella still form a formidable front row.

"We expect a hard battle up front," Polar Bears coach Clause McSanta told News From the Far Side.

"The game could be lost in the line-outs. The Southerners have two of the best locks in the game in Victor Horwield and Bakkicio Albothacete.

"Donnchien (O'Chabalahan) and Paul (O'Connallet) have been together for a long time and understand each other perfectly.

"We've also got a language expert helping us decipher their calls. Afrikiwi is a tough language to crack, but we're making progress."

"Most important of all the Southerners won't be able to us their ELVs. With ELVs involved the game is just too fast for us to keep up. Those little guys are sooo quick."

There is a doubt concerning the fitness of injury prone fly-half Jonny Wilkexton, who has an inflamed-incandescent-infected-ingrown toenail on his kicking foot, but he has been named to start.

The weather has once again been a talking point, with many pundits questioning the Penguins wisdom of only arriving two days before the match.

"We've been training extra hard, so we should be able to adapt to the colder conditions in the North, " said Penguins coach Chris Masphather.

"We hope the softer snow won't affect the pace of our wings.

"Sitivan Habakoco has been in great form and with experienced players like M'Aque Nourie amongst our backs, we're confident we can adapt to any conditions."

Whatever the conditions, the tackles are set to be ferocious so be prepared for a bone-chilling encounter.

One to watch:

For North Pole: Born in Biarritz but raised in Dublin, Olympique Leinzter number eight Jaminol Heasnordoquy has had a fabulous season. Almost impossible to stop once at full-pace, he floats like rubber duck and stings like a rabid pit bull.

For South Pole: The find of the year down South, Heinvid Brücock is a defender's nightmare at the ruck. Born in Zimbabwe, raised in Perth and now the hero of Bloemfontein, Brücock is the future of flanking. He pilfers, he plunders, he pillages, he preys, he plucks, he picks, he lifts, he loots, he liberates the ball from any bondage - if you don't hold onto it, he'll steal it.

Head to head: In any big game, top fly-halve come to the fore, the battle of the kicking tee between Jonny Wilkexton and Darné Carstyneau could be decisive.

Prediction: It's a tough one to call, but you can be sure of one thing: after the game the 'refreshments' will flow thick and fast. The Hemispheres to draw 25-all and everyone to have cracking new year, be friends and live happily ever after!

North Pole: 15 Damien Tearney, 14 Vincent Bowepenny, 13 Brannick O'Driszion, 12 Pamie Robace, 11 Maxeith Méarls, 10 Jonny Wilkexton, 9 Julias Dupleary, 8 Jaminol Heasnordoquy, 7 Maurtyno Willimasco, 6 Stierry Ferristoir, 5 Donnchien O'Chabalahan, 4 Paul O'Connallet, 3 Sylvain Castroconnet, 2 Willi Flannervat, 1 Gethien Jencella.
Replacements: 16 Ross Rees, 17 Nicolas Mealy, 18 Steve Bortolamwick, 19 Louis Haskemoles, Sandy Powrisse, 20 Shane Willimasco, 21 Ronames O'Hook, 22 Chris Cus-Duc.

South Pole: 15 Frans Stulaina, 14 JP O'Ponnorsen, 13 M'aque Nourie, 12 Quade Coodriguez, 11 Sitivan Habakoco, 10 Darné Carstyneau, 9 Joumie du Copreez, 8 Pieran Spead, 7 Richie McBurger, 6 Heinvid Brücock, 5 Victor Horwield, 4 Bakkicio Albothacete, 3 BJ Tialexander, 2 John Smoore, 1 Teny Woodwarira.
Replacements: 16 Chilimanio Redesma, 17 Rodrigo Robinsero, 18 Nathad Sharpthorn, 19 Phil Waugkowski, 20 Piri Wienaar, 21 Wyrrick Barnivier, 22 Adam-Conrad McAloane.

Date: Friday, December 25
Venue: Stade de Frigid
Kick-off: 12.00 GMT
Weather: minus 24°C, snow, and a fresh north-wester 35 km/h

Referee: Tony Lawrence (South)
Touch judges: Mark Lawrence (South), Bryce Lawrence (North)
Television match official: Phil Lawrence (North)
Assesor: His Royal Highness The Scarlet Badger

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