National Two preview: Whitecraigs hope to kick-start season against Newton Stewart

Peebles face a tough trip to Park Farm to take on table-toppers Dumfries Saints, while Hamilton and Falkirk clash at Laigh Bent

Whitecraigs are hoping to get their season back on track when they take on Newton Stewart on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson -
Whitecraigs are hoping to get their season back on track when they take on Newton Stewart on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson -

WHITECRAIGS have not won in the league since late September and have shipped quite a few points in recent weeks so they have been working hard in training this week ahead of their National League Two clash with Newton Stewart.

They had hoped that their 34-20 win over Gordonians at Aurs Road in week four would kick-start their season, but since then it has been a bit of a struggle and five defeats on the spin sees them bottom of the table. In their last home game against Stewart’s Melville they lost out 47-5 while last Friday at title chasing GHK they went down 43-17.

However, head coach Ian Hamilton is not disheartened. “The performance was better than the final scoreline showed last week,” he said.

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“We have been working hard on our tactical discipline and sticking to a game plan this week in training. We hope to impose our style of play on Newton Stewart and want to try and stretch their defensive resolve because we know they don’t give away any easy points.”

Newton Stewart make the trip to Glasgow in eighth place having pushed leaders Dumfries Saints hard in an eventual defeat last time out.

After their win at Newton Stewart, Dumfries will be looking to make it nine wins from nine in the league when they host a Peebles side who were in the top three during the first couple of months of the campaign, but have since slipped to seventh following losses to Newton Stewart, Kirkcaldy and Preston Lodge.

“This is going to be a really tough game,” said Peebles head coach Lewis Bertram. “They have the ability to score from anywhere on the park and that makes them difficult to play against.

“If you lose concentration they will punish you, but that being said I felt that in the first half last week [against PL] we played some of our best attacking ruby of the season and should have been out of sight by half-time. We were battered in the second half and want to put that right this week.

“I believe we can get a positive result if we fix the things that went wrong last week and build on the things that went well.”

GHK are six points behind Dumfries in second place, and Peter Wright’s side make the trip to Aberdeen to play 11th placed Gordonians. The visitors have lost their last two away matches in the league while Gordonians, who initially struggled to adapt to like in National Two, were victorious in their last home outing at Countesswells.

However, last time out they were ‘nilled’ at Stew Mel though and they will know a much better performance is needed to compete with GHK.

Kirkcaldy have won their last five league games and scored 50 points against Hamilton last week to get up to third in the table. The Fifers host fifth placed Preston Lodge this weekend.

Stew Mel, like Kirkcaldy, are on a good run and are fourth in the standings ahead of a trip to Glasgow Accies. The Edinburgh side have scored 86 points in the last two weeks, but know that ninth placed Accies will be confident too having edged out Falkirk at Horne Park last time out.

That 13-10 loss to Accies hurt Falkirk and they are now travel to Laigh Bent to take on Hamilton Bulls knowing that they are just six points above the drop zone after two successive defeats to teams around them in the table.

However, sixth placed Hamilton are also struggling for consistency. They were 50-7 down with 16 minutes remaining in an eventual 50-35 loss at Kirkcaldy last week and Kenny Brown’s men know they have to start games better.

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

Hamilton Bulls v Falkirk

Gordonians v GHK

Whitecraigs v Newton Stewart

Dumfries Saints v Peebles

Glasgow Accies v Stewart’s Melville

Kirkcaldy v Preston Lodge (3pm)

Current league standings –

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About Gary Heatly 463 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.