Vital that Leicester Tigers keep their cool in pressure-cooker clash
Discipline will be key for Leicester Tigers in their pressure-cooker clash with Northampton Saints on Saturday.
Already this season, the teams have featured in two thrilling but feisty encounters.
At Welford Road in December, Alesana Tuilagi and Tom Wood were red-carded before a late Horacio Agulla try secured a 30-25 for Tigers.
Then last month in the LV= Cup final, when Tigers triumphed again, Saints' Calum Clark was subsequently banned for 32 weeks after an incident in which Rob Hawkins suffered a broken arm.
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Could this be motivation for payback time? Not if Richard Cockerill has anything to do with it.
"There will be no revenge," said Tigers' director of rugby. "We'll speak about our discipline, although I don't want us to take a back seat and be intimidated.
"There will be a flashpoint at some stage in the game because that is the way the game is. But I don't want my players drawing the kind of attention to themselves that might get them yellow-carded, sent off or cited.
"If they do that then they could be out of for the week after. You could say Manu Tuilagi being suspended for last year's final was a deciding factor in the four-point loss to Saracens.
"That may or may not be, but you want your best players available. You don't want somebody unavailable because he has been pushed and grabbed and then reacted to it.
"It is difficult in a very physical game, when you're in the heat of the battle. But I hope we will be disciplined enough, and tough enough, to take whatever is thrown at us, and get on with trying to win the game. If a player from either team gets sent off it's only going to help Harlequins and Saracens."
Cockerill believes there will be no fall-out from the previous two games
"It won't have any effect," he said. "To be fair, the LV= Cup final was pretty clean apart from that one incident, which was an aberration.
"It was physical, tough, passionate and all the things you would associate with a local derby or a cup final. But apart from one thing, it wasn't a dirty game.
"There will be no hangover from that incident. I don't think anybody in the rugby world thought that had any place on a rugby field.
"I don't think the player (Clark) did, in hindsight, so it's not as if he's seen to be hard-done-by. He's been punished and we move on.
"A lot of our players and their players know each other, and I don't think any of them thought that was acceptable, it wasn't part of the game.
"Occasionally there is a flashpoint, but both clubs are happy it's been dealt with sensibly."
Harlequins lead the way on 66 points, with Saracens and Tigers on 60 and Saints on 54.
Cockerill believes Saturday's clash is pivotal to both Saints and Tigers.
"It is vital for them because they could drop seven or eight points behind us, and then face a trip to Exeter," he said.
"And it's important for us because we have to go to Quins the following week."