Fareham Heathens and Locks Heath Pumas do battle at Brookfield School in Hampshire one tomorrow (2.30pm).
Heathens lead the table but head coach Bernie Rhodes regards the game as a potential banana skin.
He said: ‘It is a classic top versus bottom encounter with the added spice of local rivalry.
‘We need to win and our opponents are battling for survival after being promoted as champions last season.
‘The history and rivalry between the two clubs has impacted on the fixture in the past when games have descended into bad tempered affairs.
‘We have to make sure we rise above that and maintain our discipline and composure.
‘This is something we have done well this season.
‘The game is made more difficult by the fact it is being played on a small school pitch.
‘This isn’t conducive to our expansive brand of rugby and scoring points there is always a challenge.
‘It means we will have to adapt our strategy to take this into account.’
Heathens are unbeaten since the opening day of the season but only edged to a 13-10 win at Sandown & Shanklin in their last outing.
Rhodes accepts his team will have to be better at the breakdown after conceding too many penalties and turn-overs against the Hurricanes.
Despite the problems Heathens showed great resilience to win.
With Millbrook level on points with them at the top, the visitors realise they have little margin for error.
Rhodes is missing six first-choice players due to injury and other commitments.
However, he insists there is greater depth in his squad.
‘A number of our second team have been knocking on the door for inclusion and I am confident the players coming in will do a great job,’ said Rhodes.
‘The performance of our forwards will be critical to ensure we play the whole 80 minutes on the front foot.
‘This will be a challenging game for us but I am confident we will come through it.’
In Hampshire two, Southsea Nomads’ match against Romsey has been postponed.
A Romsey player was killed in a traffic accident last weekend.