National Two preview: vital league points up on the line ahead of mid-season mini-break

Table-toppers Dumfries Saints face tricky trip to Stewart's Melville, Peebles head to Newton Stewart and Whitecraigs clash with Falkirk at the other end of table

GHK and Newton Stewart in action during round five
GHK and Newton Stewart in action during round five

DUMFRIES SAINTS know they need a good performance to make it seven wins from seven in National League Division Two this weekend at Stewart’s Melville, while Newton Stewart are looking forward to hosting second placed Peebles.

There is no doubt that Euan Mack’s Dumfries have been the team to watch to date in this division, scoring 311 points in their six victories, including 72 last week at home to Falkirk.

After this round of fixtures there is a break until November 2 to allow for Cup action and the Saints would love to still be unbeaten heading into part two of the campaign. To do that they have to win at Inverleith against sixth placed Stew Mel, never an easy prospect.

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“Stew Mel will be a big, physical challenge this weekend and we’ll need to front up,” said Mack. “They gave us a bit of a doing there last year and we want to try and put that right.

“To do that we will have to maintain our intensity, speed and physicality levels that have worked well for us so far this season.”

Stew Mel have won four games so far, but lost out at Preston Lodge last time out and will be keen to get back to winning wins themselves.

Peebles are Dumfries’ closest rivals after they won last week against GHK. The Borderers are on 23 points, six points adrift of the top of the table, and face a tricky away match at Bladnoch Park against a Newton Stewart side who head into this one in eighth place after three tight losses – 12-0, 11-10 and 7-6 – in the last three outings.

“After two agonising one point losses we are looking for ‘lady luck’ to shine on us and help the team get over the line against Peebles,” said head coach Martin Wallace. “We are looking for some improvement in our attack for this match to go with our defence which has been strong all season.”

GHK picked up a losing bonus point at Peebles last week and are third in the table. They are back at home this week, but face a tough test when Preston Lodge show up at Old Anniesland. The hosts have won four games to date and the East Lothian side three so it should make for an intriguing clash.

Hamilton Bulls are in fifth and are still looking for much needed consistency. They won 49-19 at Whitecraigs last week and ahead of their home game with Gordonians, head coach Kenny Brown said his team must build on that. “It is now important that we gain momentum,” he said. “We are steadily improving, but becoming more consistent is definitely our focus.”

Gordonians are still bottom of the table, but will make the trip to Laigh Bent with a spring in their step after last week’s maiden victory against Glasgow Accies. They scored 42 points in that one and the test will be whether they can take that kind of attacking play on the road.

Like Hamilton, another inconsistent side have been Kirkcaldy who have three wins from six. They will want to put in a good showing at home against a Glasgow Accies’ side whose pride was hurt up at Gordonians, while they also suffered a number of injuries in Aberdeen which head coach Andy Jackson has been monitoring in recent days.

Whitecraigs are on the road to Horne Park to face Falkirk, both sides are on eight league points, just above the foot of the table, so this is a big match in terms of scrambling away from the relegation zone and into mid-table, where the focus can then be to push on for a top half finish.

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

Newton Stewart v Peebles

Stewart’s Melville v Dumfries Saints

Falkirk v Whitecraigs

Hamilton Bulls v Gordonians

Kirkcaldy v Glasgow Accies

GHK v Preston Lodge

Current league standings –

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