The First Division’s two worst disciplinary records meet at Goldington Road this evening for what will be a highly-charged, floodlit encounter between Bedford and Moseley.
The hosts have dedicated the match to the memory of club saviour Dave Ledsom – who unexpectedly passed away earlier this week – and are almost certain to welcome Moseley with no little determination to do right by their man.
The former chairman was one of three stalwarts widely credited with rescuing Bedford from financial oblivion when, nine years ago, the club was sold by boxing promoter Frank Warren.
And just to spice up what will already be an emotional fixture Moseley arrive with the longest charge sheet in the division. Their 12 yellow cards is twice the league average while Bedford have just one fewer.
But the visitors also have in their ranks proof that errant ways can be mended. Of all their players to contribute to their dirty dozen, the name of Mark Evans is surprisingly absent.
The back-row forward set a personal best of three consecutive sin-binnings last season but while his team-mates have this term given their best impression of a marching band, Evans has been a proper goody-two-shoes.
Indeed, despite the presence of regular felons Neil Mason and Terry Sigley, the 29-year-old teacher claims his team are not naughty, just misunderstood.
“We’re not a dirty side,” Evans says. “Most of them are technical things. Maybe we have to learn to concede possession if the ball is lost at a ruck and trust in our defensive system.
“In some respects Leeds showed us that you can let a team win a ruck and then chop them down again. We will have to do that at Bedford.
“But we have also been disappointed with a few of the decisions which have not been given our way. We have to get on the right side of referees, sometimes we feel we have had them against us in patches,” he said.
Mason is a classic case. The dynamic flanker picked up not one but two yellows at Headingley Carnegie last time out. The first was a classic team card, in at the side, the second was deemed foul play when he was adjudged to have taken out a player off the floor.
Moseley expect the former Worcester forward will be asked to face a disciplinary panel next month, though he is likely to deny the second charge and should have a submission from Leeds’ rugby director Andy Key to support his case.
With that decision taken Mason is able to partner Evans in the back row for tonight’s encounter. Nathan Williams is also hopeful of a return at prop although Jack Adams is away on Sevens duty. Mose need the mercurial Henry Trinder to recover from his ankle injury, therefore. Otherwise it will be a similar side to the one that succumbed 53-20 last Sunday who are asked to negotiate a difficult five-day turnaround.
Whoever’s on the pitch Evans says they need to be more focused than they were when they last turned up at Goldington Road. That visit, in November last year, resulted in a 10-try 62-17 spanking.
Add to that the 34-10 beating handed out in December 2006 and it is clear the venue is not a happy one for the Billesley Common outfit.
“Last year we just didn’t turn up physically,” he recalls. “They were coming forward and forward and we were just going too high on them. We’ve got to go low this time and make sure we bring them down.
“They will be really firing for us and we’ll have to fight fire with fire. After the minute’s silence we will just have to concentrate and compete with them physically and mentally. But of course it’s important we keep 15 men on the pitch at all times.”
That is something Moseley have found difficult to do all season.