Rugby Union

Adam Hastings set to make Bath debut in Premiership match against Worcester

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Scotland Under-20s fly-half Adam Hastings has been handed the reins to Bath's backline and will make his senior debut in the crucial Aviva Premiership trip to Worcester.

Bath's academy playmaker has been promoted to the starting line-up ahead of Dan Bowden, who featured at fly-half in the 15-11 home defeat to Gloucester.

Under-pressure head coach Mike Ford has turned to youngster Hastings with George Ford and Rhys Priestland on Six Nations duty, as Bath seek a win to ease the strain at the Recreation Ground.

Last season's Aviva Premiership finalists sit ninth in the table and just six points off the bottom, and need a victory to start plotting a course back up the standings.

Boss Ford believes he still retains owner Bruce Craig's backing to reverse Bath's fortunes after a testing campaign so far.

"We're both disappointed because we both want the same thing," Ford told the Bath Chronicle of his and Craig's views.

"We want to be in the top four, we want to be in the quarter-final of the Champions Cup. We want to be winning but it's not happening."

Japan back-rower Amanaki Mafi will make his first start for the Blue, Black and Whites, with Guy Mercer and Dominic Day in line for 100th club appearances.

Carl Kirwan and Dewald Potgieter are set for their Worcester debuts.

Exeter head to Sale seeking to get back to winning ways after last weekend's 14-11 home defeat to table-topping Saracens that ended a 13-month unbeaten streak at Sandy Park.

Head coach Rob Baxter admitted he has been quick to remind his players that it cannot be doom and gloom in defeat to Saracens, especially as they are second in the league table.

"If any of the players are walking around now feeling a bit meek and mild then they will be the guys who get the rocket from me," said Baxter.

"That is because we are five points off the lead halfway through a Premiership season and we have worked extremely hard to get where we are."

Johnny Leota replaces Sam Tuitupou for Sale, who are riding high after winning at Leicester last weekend. Peter Stringer slots in for Chris Cusiter at scrum-half, while Mark Easter steps in at number eight with Josh Beaumont on England duty.

Flanker Matt Kvesic starts in Gloucester's back-row to face Harlequins after being deemed surplus to requirements for England's Six Nations clash against Italy.

Scotland wing Tim Visser returns after two months missing with a hamstring injury for Harlequins, with Nick Easter ruled out with a minor knock.

Gloucester's rugby director David Humphreys hopes his side can produce slightly tighter defence than in the 39-39 draw between the two sides at The Stoop earlier in the season.

"From our point of view, to be leading by 10 points going into the last few minutes of the game and not to come away with the win was disappointing," said Humphreys.

"On the other hand, we were a bit lucky that Nick Evans' last gasp drop goal missed. That just shows how evenly matched the teams are."

James Wilson will start on the wing as Northampton host London Irish at Franklin's Gardens, while Johnny Williams features at inside centre for the visitors.

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