Preview: Cheetahs v Crusaders

Both teams fully deserved their respective fates last weekend and the Cheetahs are value for their second place on the table.

VENUE & TIME: Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein, Sunday February 25, 08:10 NZT (19:10 Saturday local).

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 2 � Cheetahs 0, Crusaders 2.

LAST TIME: April 15, 2006 (Christchurch) - Crusaders 53-17 Cheetahs.

WALKING WOUNDED: Neither side has many new injury worries � the Cheetahs have soaked up their pre-season problems and got on with it, while the main injury in the Crusaders camp last Saturday was to the players' pride.

FORM: The Cheetahs are the most attacking of the South Africa teams and actually lead the try-scoring table for the whole competition. They have a big, solid and capable pack, a pacy backline that looks to use the ball and a sharp coach in Rassie Erasmus, who is starting to make a mark at this level. The side has developed after a useful inaugural season and must be regarded as a threat in any match it plays. The Crusaders gifted last Saturday's match to the Lions by taking bad options and failing to execute a number of basic plays. Poor refereeing didn't help, but the Crusaders were authors of their own misfortunes.

WHO'S HOT: Most of the Cheetahs are playing well and it is hard to single out stars, although Juan Smith is again proving himself to be one of South Africa�s best loose forwards, CJ van der Linde is devastating off the bench, the veteran Ollie le Roux is still charging around like a 20-year-old and Noel Oelschig is directing play well from halfback. Meyer Bosman needs to find his kicking form but is getting plenty of chances. None of the Crusaders could be happy with last week�s effort and no doubt they have heard all about it at training. Corey Flynn is unlikely to turn down kicking chances again, especially as the Crusaders lineout was a shambles and several chances were lost in this manner, and the backs need to be given better ball and then to make better use of it. Robbie Deans has gone without a true lineout specialist � Michael Paterson, who replaces Kevin O'Neill, is more a loose forward � and this area could again be a key pressure point on the Crusaders.

WE THINK: The Crusaders should have killed the Lions last week but made so many mistakes that the locals couldn't help but win. The Cheetahs are a much tougher proposition and, should the Crusaders be that bad again, would win by 30. That won't happen, as the Crusaders will rebound from that awful effort, but we still think the Cheetahs have enough to win this game by 1-12 points.


Cheetahs: 1 � Ollie le Roux, 2 � Adriaan Strauss, 3 � Jannie du Plessis, 4 � Darron Nell, 5 � Corniel van Zyl, 6 � Hendro Scholtz, 7 � Juan Smith (captain), 8 � Ryno van der Merwe, 9 � Noel Oelschig, 10 � Herkie Kruger, 11 � Ronnie Cooke, 12 � Meyer Bosman, 13 � Marius Joubert, 14 � Philip Burger, 15 � Tiger Mangweni.

Reserves: 16 � Richardt Strauss, 17 � CJ van der Linde, 18 � Wian du Preez, 19 � Bian Vermaak, 20 � Kabamba Floors, 21 � Michael Claassens, 22 � Eddie Fredericks.

Crusaders: 1 � Wyatt Crockett, 2 � Corey Flynn (captain), 3 � Ben Franks, 4 � Ross Filipo, 5 � Michael Paterson, 6 � Kieran Read, 7 � Johnny Leo�o, 8 � Mose Tuiali�i, 9 � Andy Ellis, 10 � Stephen Brett, 11 � Caleb Ralph, 12 � Rua Tipoki, 13 � Casey Laulala, 14 � Brent Ward, 15 � Scott Hamilton.

Reserves: 16 � Ti�i Paulo, 17 �Ben May, 18 � Jake Paringatai, 19 � Isaac Ross, 20 � Kevin Senio, 21 � Tusi Pisi, 22 � Tim Bateman.

REFEREE: James Leckie