• Preview: Cheetahs vs Crusaders

    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 Saders became the first team to cross the Indian Ocean and claim a Super Rugby victory this year when they comfortably beat the Lions in Joburg last week.

    The result at Ellis Park would have come as a massive 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 back to skipper the men in red, the signs point towards a resurgence by 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 Kiwi sides enjoy playing the Cheetahs in South Africa. Naka Drotské's men have won six, drawn two and lost 12 at home against teams from New Zealand (against the Aussies in South Africa, they've won 11 and lost five).

    Following a bad tour and last weekend's draw against the Chiefs, the Cheetahs are unikely to make the play-offs, as they did last year. They have the luxury of naming an unchanged side, but Drotské will hope his team will perform like they did in the first half of the Chiefs game, not the second.

    Blackadder, meanwhile, has made only a few rotations – notably the props and at scrumhalf – as the Crusaders line-up finally starts to enjoy some continuity.

    Cheetahs – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Hennie Daniller, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Lappies Labuschagné, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
    Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Howard Mnisi.

    Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty (c), 11 Nemani Nadolo , 10 Colin Slade, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
    Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Tom Taylor.

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    Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix

    Post by

    Simon Borchardt