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Summary

  1. Tom Homer with four penalties for Bath
  2. Sale's response from the boot of Danny Cipriani
  3. Bath up to second with victory
  4. Sharks remain seventh, eight points adrift of Bath

Live Reporting

By Brendon Mitchell

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Post update

    But hold on, we still have five Premiership fixtures to work our way through this weekend yet! And you can listen to live radio coverage of each of them right here too.

    Thanks for joining us this evening, it was far from a classic but Bath are back up to second as the race for the play-offs remains as open as ever.

    Goodnight.

  2. The Six Nations is returning...

    Ireland

    The Six Nations has, of course, remained at the back of our minds throughout this evening and it's worth pointing you in the direction of our extensive coverage of the next round of fixtures.

    As always, you'll be able to watch, listen and read about all the action in each of next weekend's three matches right here on the BBC Sport website:

    Wales v Ireland (Saturday, 14 March, 14:30 GMT)

    England v Scotland (Saturday, 14 March, 17:00 GMT)

    Italy v France (Sunday, 15 March, 15:00 GMT)

  3. A quick recap

    FT: Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Sam Burgess

    Bath ended a run of three successive Premiership defeats to move up to second in the table by beating Sale Sharks at The Rec.

    A tight game short on expansive rugby was settled by the boot, with Bath's Tom Homer kicking four penalties to Danny Cipriani's one for the Sharks.

    Mike Ford's side have jumped above Saracens, Exeter Chiefs and Wasps in the standings but all three could overhaul them with weekend victories.

    Sale remain seventh, five points from the play-off positions.

  4. Post update

    FT: Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Bath head coach Mike Ford told BT Sport: "Sale are a tough side to beat. Mike Forshaw, their defence coach, has done a fantastic job for them for the last couple of years.

    "The way they compete at the breakdown, they're a tough side. They've got the ability to put you under pressure and nick games like they did against us last year."

  5. Post update

    FT: Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Bath head coach Mike Ford told BT Sport: "After three defeats in a row we just needed to get back on the horse.

    "I thought our defence was outstanding and they never really looked like scoring. I think the wind helped us in that second half, and Ollie Devoto and Kyle Eastmond kept the ball in the right areas."

  6. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Bath v Sale

    Where do you think that game was won and lost? I reckon that statistic above is as telling as any, but you can still have your say using #bbcrugby on Twitter.

  7. Vote

    Courtney Lawes

    It might not have escaped your attention that the results of our vote is now in - and Northampton's Courtney Lawes has come out on top with a whopping 39.9%.

    Danny Cipriani, on the losing side tonight, picked up 21.7% of the vote and Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care was the best of the rest with 8.9%.

    We were asking which England player you thought should be recalled for the Six Nations match against Scotland next weekend.

  8. Post update

    FT: Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Carl Fearns on BT Sport talking about Bath's home semi-final play-off hopes: "I don't think we're looking that far ahead. We're just looking at every game as it comes and improving. This last run has been tough but we've learned a lot about ourselves and kept going for each other."

  9. Post update

    FT: Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Bath's man of the match Carl Fearns told BT Sport: "Defensively we felt quite safe. It was just about keeping our discipline spot on and not give them any easy outs, and then it will come for us.

    "We want to keep hold of the ball because when we get into shape we're deadly with the likes of Kyle Eastmond at the lime and Sam Burgess on the short balls. It's all about working hard and then we can cut people to shreds."

  10. Post update

    FT: Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Bath's man of the match Carl Fearns told BT Sport: "The past three weeks we haven't had the results we wanted. But credit to the boys, we didn't doubt ourselves, worked hard for each other. We can put the Premiership to bed for a couple of weeks now, rest up and come back ready."

  11. Post update

    Tom Bradshaw, BBC Sport at The Rec

    "After a winless February, that victory - as ugly as it was - puts Bath back on track for a top-four finish. And once the cavalry arrives back from the Six Nations, they will fancy their chances of securing a home semi-final.

    "Not for the first time this season, Bath's scrummage laid the platform for a win. It was consistently strong all night, which was vital given Sale's attempts to grind the game down at close quarters.

    "Sale rather ran out of puff after having to deliver an almost ceaseless flow of tackles in the opening hour."

  12. Full-time

    Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    But after a bit of huffing and puffing, Micky Young decides enough is quite enough and boots the ball out of play. The job is done for Bath, but it's been far from vintage.

  13. Post update

    Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Bath have the ball six or seven metres from the Sale line. Will we get a try at long last? They're certainly trying for it...

  14. Post update

    Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    A sixth penalty conceded at scrum time by Sale - their 15th given away in total - hands the Blue, Black and Whites an opportunity to get themselves one final score.

  15. Post update

    Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Brilliant choke tackle from Matt Banahan has TJ Ioane in all sorts of trouble and it'll be a scrum. This game is all but won for Bath - but it also won't do them any harm if they can prevent Sale getting that losing bonus point.

  16. Post update

    David Wilson

    Bath and England prop on BBC Radio Bristol

    "It's just getting a bit tight and hot down there. Sale won't be very happy, they just missed the chance to score a try. Time is ticking down and they will just be trying to get a bit of retaliation and hope to get a penalty, but it didn't go their way."

  17. Post update

    Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    They win themselves a penalty too, which Danny Cipriani sends to touch. But Bath manage to resist the rolling maul on this occasion and it all breaks down for the visitors.

    Now, a bit of handbags follow. What's this all about?

  18. Post update

    Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Bath v Sale

    Now here Steve Diamond's men come on the attack. We're into the final 10 minutes, so if they're going to bag themselves more than just a losing bonus point you'd have thought they need to get something on the board from this attack...

  19. Vote

    A quick heads up that our vote has now closed. We'll bring you the results after full-time.

  20. Post update

    Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Here comes the rolling maul, Bath are just five metres from the line now, knocking on the door harder than they have done all night - but that's fantastic counter-rucking from Sale and they have a penalty! They just will not go away!

  21. Post update

    Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    Tom's exactly right, Bath do look in decent shape here. Another infringement from Sale, another line-out inside their 22, another opportunity for the home side to kill this match once and for all.

  22. Post update

    Tom Bradshaw

    BBC Sport at The Rec

    "Bath are starting to look more dangerous when they have the ball and that's partly down to the energy that scrum-half Micky Young has brought to the game since he came on in the 48th minute.

    "He made a telling break down the right in the lead up to Homer's last penalty and is doing a good job of harrying the Sale back three. "

  23. Penalty (Homer)

    Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

    And it's very nicely done too. A fair bit of bottle was required there. It's now Tom Homer 12-3 Danny Cipriani.

  24. Post update

    Bath 9-3 Sale Sharks

    Bath have a scrum around five metres in from the touchline and it's a fantastic push from their pack, forcing Sale to give away yet another penalty.

    Go for the corner or go for the posts? Credit to Tom Homer, he's backing himself...

  25. Post update

    Bath 9-3 Sale Sharks

    Bath v Sale

    In amongst all the missed penalties from Tom Homer, this has been a robust defensive effort from Sale, who've now made 113 tackles to Bath's 51.

    They're still only a score away from stealing this.

  26. Vote

    One final reminder that you have just under 10 minutes left to tell us which England player you'd like to see recalled for the match against Scotland in the Six Nations next weekend.

    The vote, which you can find on the right-hand side of the page (desktop) or via the tab at the top (mobile and tablet), will close at 21:15 GMT and you can click here to read our voting terms and conditions.

  27. Missed penalty (Homer)

    Bath 9-3 Sale Sharks

    This hasn't been a great evening for Tom Homer, who once again misses from the tee. He's left a lot of points out there, has the former London Irish full-back.

  28. Post update

    David Wilson

    Bath and England prop on BBC Radio Bristol

    Sam Burgess

    "Union's a completely different game to league. Kyle Eastmond was here a year until he started playing well after he converted from league, and look at him now, he's world class.

    "Sam's a good specimen with good traits, and that's what we're trying to work on with him."

  29. Replacement

    Bath 9-3 Sale Sharks

    They clear their lines momentarily, but Bath are on the charge once more. Sam Burgess makes some good ground and forces Sale to infringe, so Tom Homer has a penalty.

    That was Burgess's last piece of action too, by the way, as he's replaced by the returning Matt Banahan.

  30. Post update

    Bath 9-3 Sale Sharks

    That's absolutely exquisite from Bath fly-half Ollie Devoto, who kicks a lovely grubber through and out of play around 15 metres from the Sale line. With the wind on the home side's backs, this could be a tricky one for Sharks.

  31. Penalty (Homer)

    Bath 9-3 Sale Sharks

    And the pressure tells, with Sale conceding another penalty - they're into double figures on that front now - and Tom Homer has an opportunity from the tee.

    An opportunity he doesn't waste, either. Bath 9-3 Sale Sharks.

  32. Post update

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    That's lovely from Bath scrum-half Micky Young, on as a replacement for Chris Cook, throwing a dummy on halfway and beating a couple of tackles. Now here comes Semesa Rokoduguni on the charge - at last The Rec crowd find their voice once more.

  33. Get involved #bbcrugby

    We've been asking you which England player would you most like to see recalled to face Scotland in the Six Nations next weekend.

    Mark Lyall: Tricky to choose between Courtney Lawes and Mike Brown

    Marc: Like to see @DannyCipriani87 start

    Dean Ralph: Lawes and Tom Wood

  34. Post update

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    An excellent kick from Olly Woodburn pins Sale back deep inside their own half, though they do at least have the throw at the line-out.

    A bit of afters breaks out off the ball too, with referee Wayne Barnes right in the middle, to which he rather amusingly quips "Let go, I don't want to get involved lads".

    Whoever came up with the idea of giving referees a microphone deserves a warm pat on the back.

  35. Post update

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    Decent ambition from Sale, choosing to go for the corner rather than the posts. But, having secured safe ball from the line-out, Johnny Leota and Sam Tuitupou are penalised for crossing and Bath have a penalty. A bit of a let off for the Blue, Black and Whites was that.

  36. Post update

    David Wilson

    Bath and England prop on BBC Radio Bristol

    "I once kicked the ball in an England v New Zealand game and saw the whole of my career flash before my eyes. Lucky it went out and we made some metres."

  37. Post update

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    Goodness me, that's comical from Sale prop Vadim Cobilas. The referee signals a penalty is on the way for the Sharks and the Moldovan elects to go for a drop goal right underneath the posts.

    Needless to say, it's not pretty and we'll go back for the earlier infringement.

  38. Post update

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    Sale Sharks have started well here, going through the phases and putting the Bath defence under some real pressure. They're just five metres from the home side's line now, knocking on the door.

  39. Kick-off

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    Here we go then. Wayne Barnes puffs his whistle and Tom Homer kicks long... Very long... Too long, in fact. And we're going to have a scrum on the half-way line.

    You don't see that too often.

  40. Post update

    Let's play darts

    While the action on the field hasn't been all that exciting, David Wilson has been telling BBC Radio Bristol what life is like in the England camp when they are trying to keep themselves entertained.

    Bath prop Wilson is currently out with a neck injury, but when he is involved in Stuart Lancaster's squad, he says darts is one of the many activities the players get up to.

    The best player? Ben Morgan. Who would have thought it?

  41. Get involved #bbcrugby

    David Simmonds: Bath have been over-reliant on Tom Homer's long range bombers since he signed. Lets get back to off the top ball, fast paced rugby #bbcrugby

  42. Post update

    HT: Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    Bath v Sale
  43. Vote

    Don't forget, there's a vote going on tonight too!

    We're asking which England player you'd like to see recalled to face Scotland in the Six Nations next weekend?

    The vote, which you can find on the right-hand side of the page (desktop) or via the tab at the top (mobile and tablet), will close at 21:15 GMT and you can click here to read our voting terms and conditions.

  44. Get involved #bbcrugby

    It's not been one for the purists this, has it?

    Tom Homer's two penalties has Bath ahead, but given the amount of possession and territory they've enjoyed I reckon they're more likely to be talking about the points they've left out there at half-time.

    Where do you think this match is heading? Let us know using #bbcrugby on Twitter.

  45. Post update

    Tom Bradshaw

    BBC Sport at The Rec

    "Sale's strategy seems to be pretty negative. They are trying to slow down Bath's pack by fair means or foul - and the nine penalties they've given away so far suggests there's a lot of the latter. Mercifully for the visitors, Tom Homer's kicking has been inconsistent for Bath so far."

    "Bath played that first half with three players having filled in at fly-half. Ollie Devoto is wearing 10 on his back, but Kyle Eastmond is frequently popping up at first receiver when Bath have possession.

    "And when Sale have an attacking set-piece, it's Sam Burgess who's stepping into the 10 channel. That lack of a consistent general at fly-half is one reason why Bath are looking disjointed and why they haven't capitalised on all their possession."

  46. Half-time

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    We're going to have a couple of scrums to end the first half, Sale with the put-in.

    As it happens, Bath actually get a real shove on, but the Sharks just about retrieve the ball and Chris Cusiter launches it into the stands as soon as referee Wayne Barnes bellows "time".

  47. Post update

    David Wilson

    Bath and England prop on BBC Radio Bristol

    Bath v Sale

    "The teams are just feeling each other out. There's been a lot of kicking tennis. But I feel like we've messed up on two crucial line-outs that haven't helped us.

    "(Bath replacement) Kane Palma-Newport is a quality player, he's had opportunities to go to other clubs but he's a Bath boy through and through and it's great to have him here. He's got 50 appearances for us, been second-team captain and I'm glad he's stayed."

  48. Missed penalty (Homer)

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    That's not so good from Homer, albeit from a tight angle, and he sends it wide of the posts.

  49. Post update

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    But the Blue, Black and Whites just can't seem to piece things together as we know they so brilliantly can. A knock-on gives Sale the put-in at the scrum.

    It's a terrific drive from the Bath pack, however, and they'll have another penalty! It looks like Stuart Hooper has had quite enough of heading for the corner too, and so the ball is back in the hands of Tom Homer.

  50. Post update

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    The hosts certainly seem to have got themselves on the right side of referee Wayne Barnes, with two penalties conceded by Sale in quick succession allowing them to move their way up the field. The penalty count is up to seven from the Sharks now.

  51. Penalty (Cipriani)

    Bath 6-3 Sale Sharks

    Danny Cirpriani

    That'll do Danny Cipriani no harm whatsoever. Now it's Bath's turn to give away a cheap penalty from the kick forward and, despite being a fair way out, Cipriani's kick is rather better than his last one and Sale are off the mark.

  52. Penalty (Homer)

    Bath 6-0 Sale Sharks

    After his early miss, that's a second successful effort from Homer and Bath are 6-0 ahead when. In truth, it really should've been 3-3 just a few moments previous.

  53. Post update

    Bath 3-0 Sale Sharks

    That's not a great two minutes for Sale, I think it's fair to say. Sharks full-back Mike Haley spills the restart, the away side infringe at the scrum and Tom Homer has an opportunity to put his side six points ahead...

  54. Missed penalty (Cipriani)

    Bath 3-0 Sale Sharks

    And from the rolling maul Stuart Hooper, Bath's captain, gives away a penalty.

    But, oh dear, Sale fly-half Danny Cipriani has not had his finest moment from the tee there. David Beckhamesque, he slips as he strikes the ball and the home side get away with it.

  55. Post update

    Bath 3-0 Sale Sharks

    Bath v Sale line-out

    One thing is for sure, however, and that's that Sale have worked themselves back into this match despite not seeing a huge amount of the ball inside the opening 12 minutes or so.

    They have a line-out and the rolling maul takes them beyond the Bath 22-metre line.

  56. Post update

    Bath 3-0 Sale Sharks

    Fantastic scrummaging from Sale, who'd knocked on deep inside their own half but dig themselves out of a hole by winning the ball against the head. Still difficult to see which pack are enjoying superiority at the set-piece.

  57. Post update

    Bath 3-0 Sale Sharks

    The Sharks have the ball in hand now though, moving it from right to left, but Johnny Leota is shoved brilliantly into touch and it comes to nothing for the visitors.

  58. Post update

    David Wilson

    Bath and England prop on BBC Radio Bristol

    Henry Thomas is not in a great way and is taken off for Kane Palma-Newport with injury.

    "Henry Thomas is really struggling," said Wilson. "Hopefully he'll recover from that, but it looks like his neck."

    On Bath's injury crisis: "We're starting to run a little bit thin, we've got a couple of young guys coming through, but we need to keep our players fit."

  59. Penalty (Homer)

    Bath 3-0 Sale Sharks

    That's more like it - Tom Homer splits the posts and Bath are ahead.

    They're certainly the side who have been asking all the questions in the opening quarter, with Sale making 41 tackles to Bath's six so far.

  60. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Sale Sharks

    Sam Burgess

    Mike Ford's side are just starting to find their groove here, Sam Burgess offloading under a challenge for his first meaningful contribution. It's another infringement at the breakdown though and this should be slightly easier for Tom Homer.

  61. Missed penalty (Homer)

    Bath 0-0 Sale Sharks

    But full-back Tom Homer, a February arrival from London Irish, drags his kick slightly and it drifts wide of the posts. We're still to get off the mark here at The Rec.

  62. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Sale Sharks

    The home side are easing there way through the phases but the Sharks are holding firm. As I say that, Tommy Taylor finds himself in an offside position at the breakdown and this'll be Bath's first chance for points, from a tightish angle.

  63. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Sale Sharks

    Now then, the Blue, Black and Whites have a line-out deep in enemy territory. Here comes the rolling maul. Bath are inside the Sale 22...

  64. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Sale Sharks

    This has been a scrappy old opening six minutes, so while we wait for things to properly get going we'll leave you to enjoy this rather lovely picture from earlier this evening...

    Bath V sale
  65. Post update

    David Wilson

    Bath and England prop on BBC Radio Bristol

    "It went down to the ground, and we got the rub of the draw which is a good sign for the game. If he's giving us penalties that easily, that is good for us."

    Loving the honesty from Mr. Wilson there.

  66. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Sale Sharks

    After a reset, Sale infringe and Bath have themselves a penalty, which they'll kick for touch. Meanwhile, Josh Beaumont is on as a blood replacement for Nathan Hines.

    Former British & Irish Lion Bill Beaumont, Josh's dad, is in the crowd watching tonight.

  67. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Sale Sharks

    Terrific work from the away side in the immediate aftermath, ripping the ball from the grasp of Carl Fearns as Bath charge forward.

    But Danny Cipriani, in the thick of the action already, pokes a little grubber straight through and out of play and so we'll have a first scrum of the night.

  68. Kick-off

    Bath 0-0 Sale Sharks

    Wayne Barnes is our referee this evening - his 150th appearance in the Premiership.

    His whistle is the cue for Sale fly-half Danny Cipriani to kick long and we're under way.

  69. Post update

    Bath v Sale Sharks (19:45 GMT)

    The Rec sounds in fine voice as the two sets of players make their way onto the field. Bath, as you'd expect, are in their familiar blue, black and white, while Sale Sharks are in their change strip of red and white.

    Kick off is just a couple of moments away.

  70. Get involved #bbcrugby

    We've been asking who you would like see England to recall for next weekend's match against Scotland in the Six Nations, and here are some of the replies.

    James Paul Robinson: Courtney Lawes all day!!

    Mikey Clarkson: Sam Burgess needs to start for England despite his slow start for Bath as once he gets to grips with union he will be brilliant.

    Eric Wilson: Jeremy Guscott.

    Jeremy, if you're reading, can we tempt you?...

  71. Team line-ups

    Bath v Sale Sharks (19:45 GMT)

    Sale Sharks: Haley; Arscott, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto; Cipriani, Cusiter; Lewis-Roberts, Taylor, Cobilas, Mills, Hines, Braid (capt), Seymour, Lund.

    Replacements: Neild, Flynn, Harrison, Beaumont, Ioane, Cliff, Ford, Brady.

  72. Team line-ups

    Bath v Sale Sharks (19:45 GMT)

    Bath: Homer; Rokoduguni, Burgess, Eastmond, Woodburn; Devoto, Cook; Auterac, Webber, Thomas, Hooper (capt), Day, Garvey, Louw, Fearns.

    Replacements: Batty, Lahiff, Palma-Newport, Fa'osiliva, Mercer, Young, Banahan, Arscott.

  73. Team news

    Bath v Sale Sharks (19:45 GMT)

    Danny Cipriani

    It's probably fair to describe fly-half Danny Cipriani as the standout selection at The Rec tonight, starting for Sale Sharks following his release from England duty.

    Elsewhere, David Seymour comes in for Josh Beaumont and Tommy Taylor replaces Marc Jones, who took a heavy knock in the loss at Leicester last weekend.

    Bath aren't exactly short of backline talent themselves, with cross-code duo Sam Burgess and Kyle Eastmond again lining up at centre for the Blue, Black and Whites.

    Mike Ford has made a total of five changes to the side beaten at Exeter, as Chris Cook returns at scrum-half, Ollie Devoto starts at fly-half and Henry Thomas is back at prop.

  74. Sale 'need something' from Bath

    Bath v Sale Sharks (19:45 GMT)

    Sale Sharks

    Sale Sharks, who finished sixth last season, have again been threatening to break into the Premiership's top four this time around - but are again in danger of falling at the final hurdle.

    Steve Diamond's men have dropped to seventh following their defeat by Leicester last week, and the former hooker is well aware they need to stay in touch with the chasing pack.

    "We're still only four points off second so we need to get something out of tonight's game," he told BBC Radio Manchester.

    "And despite the poor recent run they have been on, Bath are still a formidable side so we have got our hands full tonight."

  75. Booth has that Friday feeling

    Bath v Sale Sharks (19:45 GMT)

    The Recreation Ground

    Sporting arenas don't come much prettier and picturesque than Bath's Recreation Ground, set in the city centre just a stone's throw from the River Avon.

    It sounds, quite literally, like a walk in the park for opposition players, doesn't it? Not so, apparently.

    "Our support is fantastic, the atmosphere is great and there's something special about Friday nights at The Rec," enthused Bath first-team coach Toby Booth. "It's great for us and makes it tough for the opposition, which makes a big difference."

    You say that, Toby, but Bath have won only two of their last five Friday night Premiership games at home.

  76. Vote

    Who's coming back?

    Jonny May

    As for the backline, should Jonny May make an instant return after being replaced by Jack Nowell for the loss in Dublin? Is it time for Danny Care to come back in from the cold? Or are England missing the fierce defensive abilities of Brad Barritt at centre? Ah, and then there's Danny Cipriani...

    The vote, which you can find on the right-hand side of the page (desktop) or via the tab at the top (mobile and tablet), will close at 21:15 GMT and you can click here to read our voting terms and conditions.

  77. Vote

    The chasing pack

    Alex Corbisiero

    Don't forget there's a vote on!

    We're asking which England player would you most like to see recalled to face Scotland in the Six Nations?

    So having struggled badly at the breakdown last week, will Alex Corbisiero, Tom Wood or Courtney Lawes of Northampton Saints be in line for a recall? Or perhaps Exeter-bound Leicester Tigers lock Geoff Parling will come back in?

    The vote, which you can find on the right-hand side of the page (desktop) or via the tab at the top (mobile and tablet), will close at 21:15 GMT and you can click here to read our voting terms and conditions.

  78. The closest Premiership play-off race ever?

    Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers (Sunday, 15:00 GMT)

    Richard Cockerill

    With only five points separating six sides, from Saracens in second down to Sale Sharks in seventh, the fight for the top four could well turn out to be the most hotly contested of the professional era.

    That's certainly the view of Leicester boss Richard Cockerill, whose sixth-placed Tigers have recorded three wins in a row to keep them right in the mix ahead of their showdown against Newcastle Falcons on Sunday.

    "It's where you end up after round 22 that's the important bit," he told BBC Radio Leicester. "Being top in December doesn't mean anything.

    "It's all to play for and it's going to be probably the tightest finish since the Premiership started."

  79. Wasps' biggest Ricoh test?

    Wasps v Saracens (Sunday, 14:00 GMT)

    Wasps face the biggest examination of their unbeaten Ricoh Arena record to date on Sunday when they take on Saracens.

    Second-placed Sarries have finished top of the Premiership standings in each of the last two seasons, but are already 12 points adrift of current leaders Northampton.

    As a result, even their spot in this year's play-offs is far from guaranteed and Wasps, with just one win in their last 10 meetings against Saracens, are level on points with them in fourth.

    No surprises then that Wasps boss Dai Young has described this one as a "massive game for both teams".

  80. Dickson will 'react' to England snub

    Gloucester v Northampton Saints (Saturday, 15:15 GMT)

    Lee Dickson

    One man who, on the face of it, does appear to have slipped out of England contention is Northampton Saints scrum-half Lee Dickson.

    The 29-year-old has not featured in this year's Six Nations, with the last of his 18 Test caps coming last summer.

    "I've spoken to the England staff a couple of times," Dickson told BBC Radio Northampton. "They're happy with how I'm playing - they think I'm playing very well.

    "For reasons that they have, they've gone for Ben Youngs and Richard Wigglesworth. I have to take that on the chin and adapt and react to that."

  81. The Premiership's shining light

    Exeter Chiefs v London Welsh (Saturday, 15:00 GMT)

    Jack Nowell

    Another week, another opportunity for London Welsh to register their first victory of the season.

    The Exiles, who have lost 16 out of 16 in the Premiership since winning promotion last season, face Exeter Chiefs on Sunday, arguably the most successful Championship export of recent times.

    Rob Baxter's side, who have gone from strength to strength since coming up in 2010, are currently third in the top flight and homing in on their highest-ever finish.

    "Exeter Chiefs are a real shining light in terms of how they operate, both on and off the field," London Welsh assistant coach Matthew Ferguson told BBC Radio Oxford.

    "I think they're reaping the rewards this season of the building process of the last three or four years."

  82. View from the commentary box

    Bath v Sale Sharks (19:45 GMT)

    Bath Commentary position

    BBC Radio Manchester's Nathan Middleton has sent us this lovely picture of a rather wooden looking commentary position at the Rec.

    You can listen to his commentary here, or if you prefer your West Country tones to a Northern soul, BBC Radio Bristol's commentary can be found in the Live Coverage tab at the top of this page.

  83. Lewington on England's radar

    Harlequins v London Irish (Saturday, 15:00 GMT)

    Alex Lewington

    Speaking of players knocking on the England door, London Irish wing Alex Lewington is "certainly grabbing the attention of Stuart Lancaster", according to his club coach Glenn Delaney.

    The 23-year-old has scored two hat-tricks this season and is joint-second in the list of Premiership try scorers.

    "Alex has been doing really, really well, so they're clearly noticing players playing well who are England-qualified," Delaney told BBC Radio Berkshire. "I think he can be a much better player than simply playing in the Premiership."

    This year's Six Nations might be out of reach for Lewington, but does he have an outside shot of making the World Cup squad?

  84. Post update

    While you take some time to ponder your next England XV, now seems as good a time as any to have a little look forward at the rest of this weekend's Premiership fixtures...

  85. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Of course, if you're tempted by that 'Other' option, the onus is very much on you to tell us exactly who would you like to see recalled.

    Is the Premiership's leading try scorer Thomas Waldrom worth a shout? How about Bath's Kyle Eastmond and Semesa Rokoduguni? Or should we have included Saracens winger Chris Ashton in our shortlist?

    Let us know using #bbcrugby on Twitter.

  86. Vote

    As Stuart Lancaster's troops head into the final two rounds of fixtures looking to restore some pride - and perhaps even keep hopes of an unlikely title alive - we want to know what needs to give.

    So, which England player would you most like to see recalled to face Scotland in the Six Nations?

    We've given you eight players to choose from, so get voting now!

    The vote, which you can find on the right-hand side of the page (desktop) or via the tab at the top (mobile and tablet), will close at 21:15 GMT and you can click here to read our voting terms and conditions.

  87. The audition

    Danny Cipriani

    But where one door slams shut, another can be forced open.

    And the next audition begins tonight. Welcome to our coverage of Bath v Sale Sharks in the Premiership.

  88. A Sunday to forget for England

    Chris Robshaw

    A humbling defeat by an old rival; an examination of World Cup credentials unsuccessful; hopes of a Grand Slam dashed, for another year at least.

    Ireland 19-9 England.