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PREVIEW: Cheetahs v Crusaders

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Friday, April 28, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

ROUND 10: Cheetahs v Crusaders, Sunday 30 April, 3.15am (NZT), Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

QUICK TAP: HIGHLANDERS CONTINUE THEIR REMARKABLE REVIVAL

TALE OF THE TAPE
It's been a tough season for the Cheetahs, so near yet so far in so many games. They got out to a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs only to be run down in the final 20 minutes to lose 27-41 while a week later they almost upended the Bulls in Pretoria going down 14-20. Among all that they are among the likely pair to be dropped from the South Africa Conferences as Super Rugby is reduced from 18-15 teams. And it is not going to get any easier against a rampant Crusaders side looking to make it nine from nine this year with their lost score in their last four games being 41 points.

MILESTONE MAN

It is a measure of Matt Todd's commitment to the Crusaders cause that he brings up 100 Super Rugby games for the side in Bloemfontein. For much of his career he played second string to the ace Richie McCaw but even world champion performers need a break at times, or suffer injuries, and that was when Todd showed his stature by taking his chance to perform when the opportunity arose. It would have been easy to have cast his net around other franchises where he could have started more regularly, but he stayed and it is his loyalty that is acknowledged as much as his ability, which is unquestioned, by his achievement. Look for a continuation of that as he is paired with No.8 Kieran Read and Jordan Taufua against the Cheetahs.

CHEETAHS CHANGES

The Cheetahs have bolstered their side with prop Ox Nche and blindside flanker Uzair Cassiem returning to the starting line-up after coming off the bench last week. That has seen Paul Schoeman move to No.8 while in the backline Sergeal Petersen will be on the right wing. Captain and centre Francois Venter will be playing his 50th Super Rugby game. He has played for the side since 2014, having earlier been with the Bulls. Venter made his international debut last year against England at Twickenham and has played three Tests.

TEAMS:
Cheetahs: 1. Ox Nche, 2.Torsten van Jaarsveld, 3.Johan Coetzee, 4.Armandt Koster, 5.Carl Wegner, 6.Uzair Cassiem, 7.Oupa Mohoje, 8.Paul Schoeman, 9.Shaun Venter, 10.Niel Marais, 11.Raymond Rhule, 12.Nico Lee, 13.Francois Venter (captain), 14.Sergeai Petersen, 15.Clayton Blommetjies.

Substitutes: 16.Elandre Huggett, 17.Charles Marais, 18.Tom Botha, 19.Francois Uys, 20.Henco Venter, 21.Niell Jordaan/William Small-Smith, 22.Tian Meyer, 23.Clinton Swat.

Crusaders: 1.Joe Moody, 2.Codie Taylor, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Scott Barrett, 5.Sam Whitelock (captain), 6.Jordan Taufua, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Kieran Read, 9.Mitchell Drummond, 10.Richie Mo'unga, 11.George Bridge, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Jack Goodhue, 14.Seta Tamanivalu, 15.David Havili.

Substitutes: 16.Ben Funnell, 17.Wyatt Crockett, 18.Michael Alaalatoa, 19.Luke Romano, 20.Pete Samu, 21.Bryn Hall, 22.Mitchell Hunt, 23.Manasa Mataele.