National Two preview: Stew-Mel and Dumfries Saints face off for top spot

Glasgow Accies face tricky away day at Newton Stewart in their battle to shake of the threat of relegation, while Whitecraigs host Kirkcaldy

Glasgow Accies won at Whitecraigs last week. Image: Bob Johnstone
Glasgow Accies won at Whitecraigs last week. Image: Bob Johnstone

THERE are three rearranged matches taking place in Tennent’s National League Division Two on Saturday which are all important for differing reasons.

In the 1pm kick-off, ninth placed Glasgow Accies will head to Newton Stewart looking to build on last week’s triumph at Whitecraigs and move further away from the drop zone. They are six points clear of Gordonians in 11th, but know that Bladnoch Park is one of the toughest grounds in the league to go to and get a result.

Newton Stewart, now seventh in the league and searching a top half finish, are strong on their own patch and pushed title chasing GHK hard there last time out, just losing out.

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“We couldn’t be prouder of a performance [last week] that was achieved with sheer effort with a team that had gone through a huge number of personal and positional changes leading up to the game,” said Accies head coach Andy Jackson said about the 18-10 win at Whitecraigs.

“It would have been easy to use those changes as an excuse, but we are starting to develop a team with real grit which we will need in the season run-in. We took a lot of confidence from our last performance.”

Newton Stewart head coach Martin Wallace said:  “We are looking forward to renewing our rivalry with Accies after a really good game last week against GHK in which we somehow came away with nothing after being in a position to win the match.

“Games against Accies have been traditionally tight affairs so we know that when chances arise then we will have to take them. The boys are in a determined mood to bounce back this week.”

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In the 2pm kick-offs, fourth plays second as Stewart’s Melville host Dumfries Saints, and bottom side Whitecraigs take on Kirkcaldy.

The last time Dumfries were at Inverleith they lost out 43-22 in the National League Cup in October and with both sides knowing a victory would put them top of the table this is set to be a cracker.

The teams both go into this one off the back of losses to Peebles and Hamilton Bulls, respectively, and Stew Mel head coach Jonny Else stated:  “Although last week’s result at Peebles didn’t go our way, I was really proud of the effort and commitment, especially after such a long break.

“We are back at home this week – our first home game for a long time – and we all know we must be at our best against Dumfries. We know their quality and we be focusing on ensuring that we put a performance in that we are proud of.”

Kirkcaldy are sixth ahead of their trip to West Lodge, but still very much in the mix for a top two finish. Five points against an improving Whitecraigs side would push them up the table and the Fifers head coach Quintan Sanft said:  “It was great to get a game in after seven weeks off last week [at Gordonians], the boys were really rusty and it was a much needed game.

“I’ve always struggled at Whitecraigs for some reason and this’ll be tough with them fighting for survival. We have injury concerns with our captain Josh Laird and a few forwards so it’ll be an interesting game. A win is a must.”

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

Newton Stewart v Glasgow Accies (1pm)

Whitecraigs v Kirkcaldy

Stewart’s Melville v Dumfries

How it stands –

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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.