National Two preview: Newton Stewart head to Kirkcaldy to settle an old score

Martin Wallace's side looking to build on recent run of form to erdicate the painful memory of an 80-point drubbing at start of the season

Newton Stewart defeated Glasgow Accies last time out. Image courtesy: Newton Stewart
Newton Stewart defeated Glasgow Accies last time out. Image courtesy: Newton Stewart

THE last time Newton Stewart travelled to Kirkcaldy they shipped 80 points, but you get the feeling that the National League Two meeting between the sides will be closer this Saturday.

The Fifers came out on top 80-19 in the National League Cup tie at Beveridge Park back in August and the league’s fifth placed side will be looking for another home win to keep their promotion challenge alive and well, but will be very aware that seventh placed Newton Stewart, who have won five out of their last six league matches, will be a tough nut to crack.

“We know Kirkcaldy well as this is the third meeting with them this season,” said head coach Martin Wallace.  “We got a real lesson in the first round of the Cup which held us in good stead for what to expect in the season to come. Our home match against them was a tight affair which we lost 7-6 and we definitely felt that was a game we should have won.

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“We know what to expect this time around and we will have to front up physically if we are to get anything out of this game. The boys are up for the challenge and looking forward to it.”

Leaders GHK welcome third placed Peebles to Old Anniesland in what should be a closely fought affair. Some good second half defence allowed the Borderers to win the first match between the sides four months ago, but GHK are a strong side on their home patch under head coach Peter Wright.

Sandwiched between GHK and Peebles in the table are Dumfries Saints and they will want to continue where they left off when they defeated Kirkcaldy 17-7 on February 1st. Euan Mack’s men are away to a Falkirk side who are just two points clear of the relegation zone in 10th.

The Horne Park club have only played one game so far in 2020, a 32-24 loss to Preston Lodge on January 18th, and will know they have to start winning soon to make sure of safety ahead of next term.

Stewart’s Melville are fourth in the table and the only side among the top five promotion chasers with eight games rather than seven left. They host PL at Inverleith in a repeat of the recent National League Cup last eight tie when the Edinburgh side came from 22-0 down to win.

Like Stew Mel, bottom club Whitecraigs have eight matches remaining, but with just 10 points from their previous 14 outings they need a change of fortunes quickly to avoid getting cut adrift. Ian Hamilton’s men are away to eighth placed Hamilton Bulls having been beaten 46-19 at West Lodge in October.

There is a big game at New Anniesland where ninth placed Glasgow Accies take on second bottom Gordonians. Both teams only have six matches left so a win in this one would be priceless for either side in the battle to escape the spectre of relegation. Accies also have a score to settle having lost 42-7 at Countesswells earlier in the season.

“We’ve used the last two weeks as a chance to revisit our game plan, simplifying some aspects and just making sure we are able to execute things as we possibly can,”  said Accies head coach Andy Jackson.   “We’ve asked the boys to do some simple things, but do them exceptionally well. After our last performance against Gordonians, away at their place, we’ve spoken all week about having some wrongs to right. We’re ready.”

Opposite number Ryan Morrice said: “It’s a massive game this weekend, a win will keep us in touch with Glasgow Accies and Falkirk. We know it will be tough down in Glasgow and the conditions aren’t looking great, but we believe we can go to Accies and get the job done, if we can keep our error count down then we will give ourselves a chance.”

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

Stewart’s Melville v Preston Lodge

GHK v Peebles

Glasgow Accies v Gordonians

Hamilton Bulls v Whitecraigs

Kirkcaldy v Newton Stewart

Falkirk v Dumfries Saints

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 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