GHK start 2020 as National Two table-toppers, but they have next to no breathing space, with both Stewart’s Melville (one point behind with a game in hand) and Dumfries Saints (two points behind and two games in hand) in prime position to seize the initiative. In fact only nine points separate the top seven teams in the league, so it really is going to be a fascinating battle for the two promotion places.
Peter Wright’s men head to Kirkcaldy (six points behind with a game in hand) this weekend. They defeated the Fifers 32-10 back in September, but the Beveridge Park side are determined to use their home advantage to turn that around.
“It will be a big test against GHK after a long break,” said Kirkcaldy head coach Quintan Sanft. “The guys are keen to get back into action and we are at home so we have to use that to our advantage.”
The whole Kirkcaldy club was delighted to see 1st XV squad member Thomas Glendinning named in the Scotland Under-18 training squad in December and Sanft added: “It’s a real boost for the lads to see someone from the local area in and around an international set-up. He is a young guy who works very hard and deserves this chance.”
After the hard fought 10-6 win at GHK on December 14, Stew-Mel begin their year with a home match against seventh place Newton Stewart, who are desperate to catapult themselves into the top half of the table by claiming a scalp this weekend.
As well as keeping themselves right in the title race, Stew-Mel will also want to put in a good showing in memory of former club stalwart and well-known Scottish rugby administrator Fred McLeod, who passed away in December and whose funeral is this [Friday] morning.
Dumfries Saints head to New Anniesland to take on a Glasgow Accies side who are in ninth place, just seven points ahead of the bottom two.
Dumfries won 54-0 in their last match before the break against Gordonians while Accies were lost 50-7 at Preston Lodge, and when the two teams met back in September the Saints coasted to a 63-0 victory.
Fourth placed Peebles are in a rich vein of form having not lost in the league since November 9th. They are on the road to Horne Park to take on 10th placed Falkirk, who are desperate to get their season back on track after a disappointing run of six defeats on the bounce.
When the two teams played at The Gytes three and a half months ago Peebles won 38-29, but Falkirk will have taken heart from parts of their showing that day.
There is a massive match in Aberdeen with 11th placed Gordonians hosting 12th placed Whitecraigs. “It is a ‘must win’ for both sides – and the guys are looking forward to it,” said Gordonians head coach Ryan Morrice. “I’m expecting both sides to give it everything and leave it all out there on the pitch. We know we did not show our best against Dumfries before Christmas, in the last 20 minutes especially, but we believe we can be a match for anyone at home.”
However, Whitecraigs head coach Ian Hamilton is also focussing on the positives as he looks to inspire his team to a positive run in to the end of the season. “We have been training hard as we continue to develop our game sense and tactical discipline,” he said. “Sadly, we had three games called off before Christmas so this is our first competitive outing since November 23. We want to use this game to kick start things and give us some momentum for the weeks ahead.”
“As a young playing group they are learning as individuals and as a collective all of the time and we want to try and finish the season strongly.”
Those called off games mean that while Whitecraigs are bottom of the table, they have two games in had over Gordonians and are only two points behind.
Hamilton Bulls are at home to Preston Lodge.
This weekend’s National League Division Two fixtures (all 2pm unless stated) –
Falkirk v Peebles
Stewart’s Melville v Newton Stewart
Gordonians v Whitecraigs
Glasgow Accies v Dumfries Saints
Hamilton Bulls v Preston Lodge
Kirkcaldy v GHK (3pm)
How it stands –