Do not throw it away in bin

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There have only been four red cards in the entire Premiership this season – and two of those came in the east midlands derby at Welford Road.

Tom Wood and Alesana Tuilagi were the two players picked out by referee Wayne Barnes back in December following a mass brawl.

That saw Chris Ashton banned for pulling Tuilagi’s hair as he dragged the giant winger into touch.

Then, of course, there was Manu Tuilagi’s assault on Chris Ashton last season and the LV= Cup was not without controversy following Calum Clark’s 32-week ban for breaking Rob Hawkins’ elbow.

Saints boss Jim Mallinder defended the club against accusations that its image had been hurt by Clark’s ban and Dylan Hartley’s suspension.

But it comes as something of a surprise to find that Saints have conceded the third highest number of yellow cards this season, while arch-rivals Leicester have been handed just three – the joint lowest along with Exeter.

For a club that are renowned for being ‘streetwise’ and being able to slow the ball down it is a surprising statistic.

Saints have the best defence in the league but have obviously had to take desperate measures at time to keep that.

But a yellow card against Leicester on Saturday could be crucial.

They rode out the 10 minutes at Bath superbly, even coming out 3-0 in front, but Leicester will be a different proposition.

After a slow start to the season the Tigers are on fire. They have equalled the Premiership record by racking up four successive maximum five-point wins in a row.

Those wins have come against Newcastle, Gloucester and Worcester at home and London Irish away.

And they ran in 21 tries in those four games, scoring an almighty 162 points – an average of 40.5 points a game and more than five tries.

They will be a stiff test for the best defence in the league. Saints have conceded just 23 tries this season, an average of 1.2 per game.

Mallinder’s men will need to keep all 15 players on the pitch for the full 80 minutes if they are to keep to their average rather than the Tigers’ on Saturday.

It is sure to be another combustible east midlands derby this weekend, especially with so much riding on it.

Saints desperately need the four points with just three games left and a play-off place to hold on to, while Leicester can smell a knockout win.

Saints’ season is standing on the precipice.

Lose and they could tumble out of the play-offs altogether. Win and they could start thinking about the top two and a home semi-final.

Mallinder has won every home game against Leicester in all competitions and a sell-out crowd on Saturday will surely help.

But he needs his players to keep on the right side of referee Dave Pearson to keep that record going on Saturday.