Super Rugby: Cheetahs v Crusaders preview
Last Updated: 11/04/14 2:17pm
The Crusaders will be seeking their first victory in Bloemfontein since 2007 when they face the Cheetahs on Saturday.
Having suffered a slow start to their season, the seven-time champions became the first team to cross the Indian Ocean and claim a Super Rugby victory this year when they comfortably beat the Lions in Johannesburg a week ago.
The result as Ellis Park was a morale boost and pressure reliever for Todd Blackadder and his team, who will look to add to the three tries they scored last week.
With Kieran Read is back after a head injury to skipper the men in red, the signs point towards a resurgence from the tournament's most successful side.
But the Free State Stadium has proved a tricky place to visit for the Crusaders in recent years, losing 33-20 there in 2011 and 20-13 in 2009.
Those results seem like a bit of an anomaly since history suggests that the other New Zealand sides enjoy playing the Cheetahs in South Africa. Naka Drotske's men have won six, drawn two and lost 12 at home against teams from New Zealand. (Against the Australians in South Africa, they've won 11 and lost five).
Following a bad tour and last weekend's draw against the Chiefs, the Cheetahs have their backs to the wall if they are going to reach the playoffs, as they did last year.
"We're now in a situation where we basically need to win all our games going forward," said Drotske.
"The Crusaders are a quality team. Their history speaks for itself - they've won this competition seven times.
"We know we have to be physical against them on Saturday and we'll be playing with some confidence from doing well against them in recent years, but we know we have to execute for the full 80 minutes if we are going to win."
The Cheetahs have the luxury of naming an unchanged side, but Drotske will hope his team will perform like they did in the first half of the Chiefs game, not the second.
Blackadder meanwhile has only made a few rotations - notably the props and at scrum-half - as the Crusaders line-up finally starts to enjoy some continuity.
Cheetahs: 15 Le Roux, 14 Hendricks, 13 Sadie, 12 Benjamin, 11 Daniller, 10 Goosen, 9 Pretorius, 1 Nyakane, 2 Strauss (capt), 3 Van Dyk, 4 De Jager, 5 Uys, 6 Prinsloo, 7 Labuschagne, 8 Cook
Replacemets: 16 Barnes, 17 Oosthuizen, 18 De Klerk, 19 Ferreira, 20 Mohoje, 21 Venter, 22 Watts, 23 Mnisi
Crusaders: 15 Dagg, 14 McNicholl, 13 Fonotia, 12 Crotty (capt), 11 Nadolo , 10 Slade, 9 Heinz; 1 Crockett, 2 Flynn, 3 Laulala, 4 Bird, 5 Sam Whitelock, 6 George Whitelcock, 7 Todd, 8 Read (capt)
Replacements: 16 Funnell, 17 Lienert-Brown, 18 Franks, 19 Tupou, 20 Taufua, 21 Ellis, 22 Bleyendaal, 23 Taylor