While the Cheetahs have only beaten the Crusaders twice in eight years, the Free Staters won the last two at home back-to-back in 2009 and 2011.
“The Crusaders are a quality team. Their history speaks for itself – they’ve won this competition seven times,” said coach Naka Drotske.
“We know we have to be physical against them and we’ll be playing with some confidence from doing well against them in recent years.”
The Crusaders have however, slowly started to build up steam and the return of their inspirational captain, No 8 Kieran Read, is a further boost to their cause, as he is a player without equal when in full-flight.
“We know we have to execute for the full 80 minutes if we are going to win,” Drotske said.
In contrast, the Cheetahs are in desperate mode after five defeats and are aware that they need to grab any straws if they still want to qualify for the play-offs.
“We’re now in a situation where we basically need to win all our games going forward,” Drotske admitted this week.
The two wins by the Cheetahs against the Crusaders at the Free State Stadium – 20-13 in 2009, and 33-20 in 2011 – accounts for a third of all their home wins against sides from New Zealand.
Kick-off is at 5.05pm.