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Gold challenges youngsters to make mark

Bath will begin life after Olly Barkley on Saturday when they resume Aviva Premiership business against fierce rivals Gloucester at Kingsholm.

Fly-half Barkley bowed out with a 16-point haul as Bath saw off Sale Sharks 31-10 last weekend before heading to Paris and starting work with his new club Racing Metro. New Zealand World Cup winner Stephen Donald is now set to be handed Bath's number 10 shirt, while young prospect Tom Heathcote should soon be available again after injury.

Bath head coach Gary Gold said: "Stephen is our 10 of choice. Sam Vesty and Tom Heathcote are his back-ups, and we've got young Ollie Devoto coming through.The important thing in building a team that is sustainable for a number of years is that you shouldn't be reliant on one individual week in, week out."

Elsewhere on Saturday, Premiership leaders Northampton visit struggling London Irish, while Harlequins travel to Exeter, with bottom club Sale hosting Leicester at Salford City Stadium on Friday night.

Sale, three points behind 11th-placed Irish, have lost all five league games this term and have collected just one point.

"Our last home performance was unacceptable," said Sale rugby director Bryan Redpath, recalling a 29-19 defeat against newly-promoted London Welsh two weeks ago.

"In some ways, we improved last weekend (against Bath) but still lost the game. We are against a formidable side in Leicester, so we've got to restore some pride and play with plenty of passion. Our challenge on Friday is to be at our best."

Leicester are lifted by the return of scrum-half Ben Youngs, who makes his first appearance since suffering a shoulder injury during England's summer tour to South Africa. Leicester have suffered just one Premiership away defeat during the last 12 months, and have won their last five games against Sale, which underlines Sharks' degree of difficulty.

"The attitude and the application of the squad was first-class last week against Exeter, especially with the late problems with injuries and illness which could have disrupted us," Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill said.

"We've made a reasonable start to the season, but it is important to keep that going and focus on our own game. We've got a good squad, and all of the players will have their opportunities."


From Belfast Telegraph