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Aviva Premiership: Bath v Sale Sharks preview
- Saturday's Aviva Prem preview
- Diamond defends scrum fouls
- Ryan: Worcester win crucial
- Davies: Win could be pivotal
- O'Shea targets Sale showdown
- Young: Sarries had extra gear
- Youngs points the finger
- No action over bite claims
- Ryan eyes great escape
- Sarries cut down Wasps
- Harlequins dispatch Exiles
- Worcester win at last
- Gloucester hold off Chiefs
- Tigers maul stuttering Saints
Bath will be looking to halt Sale's late push for a place in the Aviva Premiership play-offs at the Recreation Ground on Friday night.
Victory over the Sharks would cement third place for Mike Ford's team and strengthen the claim of old rivals Leicester to a spot in the play-offs.
With Sale and Harlequins the only teams capable of displacing Friday's combatants, Bath have the opportunity to all but remove them from contention.
"This is a huge game for both teams," said Bath head coach Ford.
"A win for us would see make us a bit more secure in the top four, while for Sale it would narrow the gap and potentially see them break into the play-off spaces.
"Sale looked very good against Northampton last weekend. They beat a team that have been in the top two all season and will be full of confidence from that win.
"They're probably one of the most underrated sides in the Premiership and when they hit a run of form they can be very dangerous."
Bath make just one change to the team that thumped London Irish 44-23 with Guy Mercer replacing the injured Francois Louw at openside. Full-back Nick Abendanon makes his 200th appearance for the club.
Sale swept aside Northampton 19-6 last Saturday, despite the presence of Saints' star-studded international contingent, to register a third successive Premiership win.
Director of rugby Steve Diamond, who has replaced lock Jonathan Mills with Andrei Ostrikov, wants to see that form continue against Bath.
"This time last year we were scrapping for our lives. Now we are comfortably mid table," Diamond said.
"We might be suffering from a little bit of altitude sickness for a couple of weeks, but we have Bath to come, as well as Quins, Exeter and Leicester, who are all big sides.
"If we don't have the same energy and attitude in those games then we won't win them, if we do we may well win them."
Bath: 15 Abendanon, 14 Watson, 13 Devoto, 12 Eastmond, 11 Rokoduguni, 10 Ford, 9 Stringer; 1 James, 2 Batty, 3 Wilson, 4 Hooper, 5 Attwood, 6 Garvey, 7 Mercer, 8 Houston
Replacements: 16 Dunn, 17 Catt, 18 Perenise, 19 Day, 20 Fearns, 21 Young, 22 Henson, 23 Agulla
Sale: 15 Arscott, 14 Brady, 13 Leota, 12 Tuitupou, 11 Cueto, 10 Cipriani, 9 Peel; 1 Lewis-Roberts, 2 Jones, 3 Cobilas, 4 Ostrikov, 5 Paterson, 6 Braid, 7 Seymour, 8 Gaskell
Replacements: 16 Croall, 17 Harrison, 18 Thomas, 19 Mills, 20 Easter, 21 Cliff, 22 Macleod, 23 Miller
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Aviva Premiership Table
|Friday 5th September|
|19:45||Northampton vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 6th September|
|14:00||Sale vs Bath|
|14:00||Saracens vs Wasps|
|15:00||Leicester vs Newcastle|
|16:30||London Irish vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 7th September|
|14:00||London Welsh vs Exeter|
|Friday 12th September|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Saracens|
|Saturday 13th September|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Sale|
|15:00||Bath vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Exeter vs Leicester|
|Sunday 14th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Northampton|
|15:00||Newcastle vs London Irish|
|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Exeter|
|Saturday 20th September|
|14:00||Sale vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com