National Two preview: second half of season set to start with a bang

Second placed Kirkcaldy visit third placed Dumfries Saints, while table-toppers GHK face a tricky challenge against Hamilton Bulls

Stewart's Melville are right back in the mix after a win over Hamilton Bulls last weekend. Image: Jax MacKenzie Photography
Stewart's Melville are right back in the mix after a win over Hamilton Bulls last weekend. Image: Jax MacKenzie Photography

THE second half of the National League Two season starts this weekend with three points separating four clubs at the top. In the game of the day, third placed Dumfries  Saints take on second placed Kirkcaldy at Park Farm, while leaders GHK are at home to Hamilton Bulls and fourth placed Stewart’s Melville take on Falkirk at Inverleith.

On the opening day of the season, Dumfries were 26-21 down at Kirkcaldy before a late Alan Birdsall penalty and then the winning try from Ewan Miller saw them home 29-26, which launched an excellent run of consecutive wins for the men from the south west. but recent defeats to Peebles and Preston Lodge have seen them surrender top spot in the division to GHK and Saturday’s opponents.

Kirkcaldy make the trip having won their last seven league games and ahead of the tasty looking match Dumfries head coach Euan Mack said:  “We played a lot better last week at PL than we had done against Peebles, but gave the opposition two tries and that ultimately cost us.

Hamish Watson’s Edinburgh return a timely boost for clash against second-string Munster

Jonny Gray returns to the fray for Glasgow Warriors

Tom Galbraith plans to recapture love for the game at Southern Knights

“This weekend we have got a massive challenge against Kirkcaldy who are on a good run. We have a few injuries, but I’m confident that we can perform well at home and bounce back.”

His opposite number, Quintan Sanft, said:  “It is going to be a tough game, we know that. With the wet weather there has been it is probably not going to be a free flowing game, but both teams will dig in.

‘Dumfries have had a blip, but they are at home and they beat us last time so they will take confidence from that. We are on a good run at the moment and hoping to keep it going, but we are fully expecting it to be tough.”

When GHK went to Laigh Bent to take on Hamilton in week one defences were not on top as the Bulls won 40-36. Since then, Peter Wright’s side have lost just two more league games and last Friday night’s derby win over Glasgow Accies put them top on points difference ahead of Kirkcaldy.

It was their third win on the spin and for the visit of the Bulls to Old Anniesland they will hope that last week’s man-of-the-match Niall Hall can lead well from the front-row once again. Hamilton make the trip seventh in the table and have lost their last three away games.

Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 27)

Stewart’s Melville have won their last four league matches and will start as favourites against 10th placed Falkirk. The Edinburgh side won at Horne Park 24-21 on the opening day and head coach Jonny Else said:  “As we enter the second half of the season the squad is in reasonably good health. We have picked up a couple of injuries, but overall we have a settled side to face Falkirk.

“They will be a tough challenge so we have to be prepared to play with accuracy, pace and dynamism. We have focused on working hard for each other at training whilst acknowledging that our accuracy, at times, last week was good.

“This league is tough as recent results have shown, so we must perform to our best to get a positive result this weekend.”

Peebles are fifth, four points behind Stew Mel, and will be looking to build on their recent upturn in fortunes when they host second bottom Gordonians at The Gytes.

Bottom side Whitecraigs have a similarly tough away trip with the men from Newton Mearns travelling to Prestonpans to play PL.

Glasgow Accies are currently seven points above the drop zone, but they will know that Bladnoch Park is never an easy place to go and play Newton Stewart.

This Saturday’s National League Division Two fixtures (all 2pm unless stated) –

Newton Stewart v Glasgow Accies

Preston Lodge v Whitecraigs

Dumfries Saints v Kirkcaldy

Stewart’s Melville v Falkirk

Peebles v Gordonians (3pm)

GHK v Hamilton Bulls (3pm)

How it stands –

[lt id=”20″]

Cartha QP teenager Luca Alessandri takes tight-head switch in his stride

About Gary Heatly 457 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.