National Two: Newton Stewart find their feet after stepping up a level

Wigtown club head to Stewart's Melville with confidence after promising start to season in new league

Newton Stewart have made a good start to the season.
Newton Stewart have made a good start to the season. Image: Billy Broll

NEWTON STEWART have made a good start to the Tennent’s National League Division Two season and are now looking forward to hosting Stewart’s Melville on Saturday. The Wigtown club made history in 2018-19 by being promoted to this level for the first time in their history and so far the players have enjoyed testing themselves in the new division.

In week one, the men from Bladnoch Park bounced back from a National League Cup exit at the hands of Kirkcaldy to draw 13-13 with Glasgow Accies. They then edged out Hamilton Bulls 22-20 in a cracking contest, before last weekend recording an impressive away win at Falkirk 34-26. All of which has left them fifth in the table, just two points off the top, as the first month of the season edges towards a close.

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“Going into this league was very much an unknown for us, but we were all keen to give it a go and see how we got on,” said head coach Martin Wallace. “Kirkcaldy put 80 points past us in late August in the Cup, but the heads did not go down and I think the draw against Accies and then the win over a good Hamilton side gave the boys a big lift.

“We know that if we are to compete in this league then picking up anything on the road will be key and the guys played well at Falkirk. The average age in the squad is around 22, which is really exciting for me as a coach because there is a lot of potential there.

“If you had told me a few years ago that we would be in the same league as a famous club like Stew Mel I’d not have believed you, so for us to be hosting them is an honour and it is a game we are excited by. We pride ourselves on being hard to beat at home and for many clubs coming here it is a trip into the unknown and we have to use that to our advantage.”

Like Newton Stewart, Stew Mel have won two games so far this term, but a lack of bonus points means they are three places and four points behind in the table.

Dumfries Saints and Peebles are both still unbeaten and they both have home games this weekend. Last weekend, Dumfries won at Gordonians with a set-piece backs move try from Sam Hiddleston one of the highlights, while Lewis Bertram’s Peebles edged out Hamilton in a thriller. Saints welcome ninth-placed Glasgow Accies to Park Farm with Falkirk the side travelling to the Borders to take on Peebles.

Hamilton head to Preston Lodge in week four with head coach Kenny Brown no doubt looking for a bit more defensive solidity from his team, because although they have scored 89 points in three outings they have also let in 89 points to sit seventh in the table.

There could be points aplenty when fourth-placed GHK meet sixth-placed Kirkcaldy. Both teams go into this one having scored nearly 50 points in wins in week three, and respective head coaches Peter Wright and Quintan Sanft like their sides to attack.

Tenth meets bottom at West Lodge, where Whitecraigs take on Gordonians with both sides still looking for a first win of the league campaign.

This weekend’s National League Division Two fixtures (all 3pm) –

Peebles v Falkirk

Preston Lodge v Hamilton Bulls

GHK v Kirkcaldy

Newton Stewart v Stewart’s Melville

Dumfries Saints v Glasgow Accies

Whitecraigs v Gordonians

National Two table as it stands –

Stewart's Mel1815305202432772271
Dumfries Saints18135058227830410264
Newton Stewart191081333376-437251
Preston Lodge16961410339719246
Hamilton Bulls1881005494806910446
Glasgow Accies196121285524-2395132

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Gary Heatly
About Gary Heatly 174 Articles
Gary has had a love for both rugby and writing for as far back as he can remember. Having cut his teeth in the ‘real world’ of journalism at the Midlothian Advertiser local newspaper for a couple of years between 2005 and 2007, he has since been kept busy covering sport, mainly rugby. He was a member of the editorial team at SCRUM Magazine for 11 years until recently and now provides regular rugby content to various national and local newspapers, magazines and websites via his company GH Media as well as hosting a podcast. Twitter: G_HMedia