Bedford Blues take on Newcastle Falcons in what promises to be an epic top-of-the-table encounter at Goldington Road on Saturday, writes Michael Hann.
After tasting defeat for the first time this season against Bristol, director of rugby Mike Rayer says his side will need to be at their best for the visit of Dean Richards’ men.
He said: “This is a different animal coming here at the weekend. They are very well organised, powerful, and a pretty direct team.
“We are going to have to be on the top of our game this week.
“But as much as anything we want to be true to ourselves, we want to play the Bedford way and see if we cause them problems.
“It doesn’t matter who comes here that is the way we want to go.”
The Blues welcome back Don Barrell and Darren Fox who fell ill ahead of last weekend’s game, while James Stephenson should have recovered from a foot injury.
However, Ollie Dodge will definitely be out after suffering a leg injury against Bristol.
Although it may not be broken, Rayer is fearful the winger may have done some ligament damage.
He continued: “The initial x-ray suggests it isn’t broken but that doesn’t make it any better as we are a bit fearful of some severe ligament damage.
“James Stephenson trained last night and hopefully he’ll be ready for this weekend.”
A bumper crowd is expected at Goldington Road on Saturday after the club have sold a record number of advance tickets.
However, there are a limited number of tickets left for The Eagle Stand which will be on sale from the club shop between 12pm-6pm this week, while ground entry tickets will be available as normal.
And the Blues director of rugby is urging the Bedford supporters to get behind the team this weekend.
Rayer added: “To be honest we need the whole of Bedford here to help us and the support has been magnificent so far this season.
“The more people in here the better chance we have got without question.
“If we do that then maybe there’s a chance we can upset the odds.”