Scott Robertson has made just one change to the side that hammered the Stormers last weekend for their round 10 match in Bloemfontein on Saturday (5.15pm kick off), an indication that he is expecting a big performance from the home side.
The only change is at scrumhalf where Bryn Hall starts ahead of Mitchell Drummond; for the rest it is the same team that scored a 57-23 win over the Stormers in Christchurch last weekend.
It’s going to be a huge test for Franco Smith and his men, who have won just twice in eight outings this year, while the visitors are unbeaten so far - the only side with a perfect record.
The Cheetahs are coming off a poor showing against the Bulls last week while before that they gave up a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs to lose 27-41 in Bloemfontein.
The difference in class between the teams is evident in some of the statistics so far: the Crusaders have the best defensive record having conceded 18.7 points per game, while the Cheetahs are one of the worst performing sides defensively, having let in 35 points per game.
Also, the Crusaders are one of the most lethal teams on attack - they have scored a whopping 44 tries (only the Hurricanes have scored more - 56 - while the Cheetahs have managed just 19.
But Smith will hope that the axe hovering over the Cheetahs’ heads will spur the side on, like it did for the Kings last week, who surprised friend and foe by upsetting the Waratahs in Perth last weekend.
The good news is the Cheetahs are at least close to full strength with Sergeal Petersen on the right wing, Uzair Cassiem back on the side of the scrum and Ox Nche playing in the front row.
Clayton Blommetjies, Sergeal Petersen, Francois Venter (capt), Nico Lee, Raymond Rhule, Niel Marais, Shaun Venter, Paul Schoeman, Oupa Mohoje, Uzair Cassiem, Carl Wegner, Armandt Koster, Johan Coetzee, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Ox Nche.
Replacements: Elandré Huggett, Charles Marais, Tom Botha, Francois Uys, Henco Venter, Niell Jordaan/William Small-Smith, Tian Meyer, Clinton Swart
Blessed ❤️ pic.twitter.com/NazXPWjBJ0
David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richard Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (capt), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.
Replacements: Andrew Makalio, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Manasa Mataele