SALE Sharks arrive at the Rec tonight and, at the start of the season, you would not have found many people who would have thought they would be up there challenging for an Aviva Premiership play-off spot this season.

All credit to Sale’s director of rugby Steve Diamond.

I’m not sure if everything is sorted out there in terms of the roles behind the scenes – he has been chief executive there too – but Steve has rolled his sleeves up and got involved.

A lot of people would have backed Sale to be involved in the scrap at the bottom of the table against the likes of Worcester and Newcastle, but they’ve been very gritty this season.

They don’t have many players away on the international circuit and they have been strong all round.

Tonight’s game promises to be a real challenge for Bath, but having said that, hats off to Mike Ford’s side for the way they played to win at London Irish last Saturday, particularly in the second half.

They look good and what I like more than anything else is how their game has evolved.

When you look back to just over a season ago, Bath kicked a lot and allowed themselves to be attacked.

But with a very strong pack and an exciting backline, with George Ford and Peter Stringer pulling the strings, that has all changed this season.

This stage of the season is where teams need to be in form and to go to the Madejski Stadium and put on a display like that bodes well.

We’re getting to that stage of the season where the usual suspects are lining up now.

While Saracens and Northampton have been at the top all season and Bath have also been in the mix, Leicester Tigers have quietly moved into contention at the right time.