The Crusaders and Cheetahs don't do low-scoring games.

For whatever reason, when these two sides play each other fuel meets fire and the result is generally a points extravaganza. The same will probably apply in Bloemfontein in the early hours of tomorrow (NZT), with the unbeaten Crusaders coming up against a team with only two victories this season and their existence under threat from a Sanzaar overhaul.

The Crusaders, who have won seven of their nine matches against the Cheetahs, with the lowest scoring match a 20-13 win for the South African team in 2009 and the biggest a 52-31 thrashing by the Crusaders in Bloemfontein in 2014, must keep their high standards under coach Scott Robertson this year because a slip will cost them the precious competition lead.

Former player Justin Marshall wrote last weekend that the South African trip in recent times was where the Crusaders would pull together after a difficult start and being their push for the playoffs, but this time they are already on top of the summit. The only way is down and Robertson would do well to warn his side of the perils of that.


Accordingly, he has named a strong team, with the same pack which started the romp against the Stormers in Christchurch last weekend and only one change to the backline, where Bryn Hall starts at halfback instead of Mitchell Drummond.

Their possession-based, relentlessly pressing game should be too much for a Cheetahs team down on their luck, and seemingly, down in the mouth. After their defeat to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last weekend, coach Franco Smith said the threat of the Sanzaar axe was weighing heavily on his team.

"Unfortunately if you talk about it from Monday to Saturday, then subconsciously it starts to become a threat. And we are playing not to lose instead of continuing to win," Smith said.

"We're trying to deal with it, we've done a lot of work with our mental coach and we try and really put that to one side, but unfortunately it's big monkey sitting on the back."

The Crusaders will be told to keep their ruthless edge, and with All Blacks skipper Kieran Read again starting at No8 and likely to get a lot more than his 40 minutes against the Stormers, and new captain Sam Whitelock again leading from the front, Robertson's team have what should be the perfect role models.

The red and blacks hurt the Stormers mentally and physically in the opening 10 minutes last weekend, and they didn't have the ball. That same defensive steel should put doubt into the minds of the Cheetahs and the Crusaders' new-found attacking style could finish them off.