National Two preview: Falkirk return from month off to take on table-toppers Stew-Mel

Head coach Stevie Leckie says his side are raring to go as they look for a strong end to the season in order to escape the spectre of relegation

Stewart's Melville were narrow winners when the two sides met at Horne Park in round one of the campaign. Image: Gordon Honeyman
Stewart's Melville were narrow winners when the two sides met at Horne Park in round one of the campaign. Image: Gordon Honeyman

TOP of the table Stewart’s Melville take on 10th placed Falkirk on Saturday in National League Division Two with the latter side itching to play a game having not completed 80 minutes since January 18th, a period of inactivity which has left them just two points clear of 11th placed Gordonians – although they have three matches in hand over the men from Aberdeen.

“We are really looking forward to finally getting a fixture played,” said Falkirk head coach Stevie Leckie. “It’s been so tough since the last league match, it feels as if all we have done is trained. Stew-Mel are having a great season, but we were also playing well before this recent break and have been competitive in every match this season except for one. We expect a fast, competitive match on Saturday.”

When the sides last met way back on the opening day of the season in September, Stew Mel squeezed out a 24-21 win at Horne Park, so will not be taking the Falkirk challenge lightly.

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Bottom side Whitecraigs, like Falkirk, have only played 14 of their 22 league matches and although they are eight points from safety they know a good run from now could still keep them in the division for 2020-21.

This weekend they face a stern test against a Dumfries Saints side who are third in the table and who defeated them 83-12 five months ago.

“After a few weeks off due to the poor weather, we have been training hard and tweaking some parts of our game plan so we can hopefully finish the season strongly,” said Whitecraigs head coach Ian Hamilton.

“We are looking at rectifying Dumfries’ dominance from our first encounter and are aiming to impose ourselves on the game. We are looking to approach each game as it comes and focus on how we can capitalise when we have possession more and turn it into points on the board.”

Hamilton Bulls are at home this weekend to Preston Lodge, while fifth place Kirkcaldy will look to bounce back from their Newton Stewart defeat when they hots second placed GHK, knowing that they really need  a win to keep alive their promotion dream.

Peter Wright’s GHK last played on January 31 against Hamilton and ahead of this fixture their skipper Cammy Hughes said:  “With the lack of rugby recently the boys are itching to get ‘at it’. We feel that after three really good wins recently we have some good momentum going into the last seven games. Kirkcaldy are going to be a big, physical team that look to bully us up front and they have strong runners in the backs so matching that will be really important.

“Looking at the forecast it’ll be the team that play the conditions that best will probably come away with the win.”

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

Kirkcaldy v GHK

Hamilton Bulls v Preston Lodge

Whitecraigs v Dumfries Saints

Stewart’s Melville v Falkirk

How 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 173 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