STEWART’S MELVILLE took a big step towards the National Two title by defeating Dumfries Saints on their own patch on Saturday, but dark horses Peebles are breathing down their neck after a seventh league win on the bounce against Newton Stewart, while Glasgow Accies and Gordonians secured crucial bonus point wins near the bottom of the table which lift their relegation fears.
Accies managed to defeat Kirkcaldy 24-5 at New Anniesland to lift themselves 14 points clear of the drop zone, although Falkirk in 11th have four games in hand on them. Jason Currie, man-of-the-match Tommy Spinks, Calum Duke and Sean Alton scored the hosts’ tries in the bonus point win, with Gregor MacEwan kicking two conversions.
“For the second match in a row, we prepared for treacherous conditions and we certainly got them,” said Accies’ head coach Andy Jackson. “Over the last few weeks, we have spoken constantly about building momentum in the last part of the season and how important it is to show what our club is all about through our performances. We were delighted to be able to do that again against a powerful Kirkcaldy side.
“The pack performed fantastically well against a much bigger eight, again giving us a set piece platform that meant we could control the pitch position. Although conditions were atrocious, we scored two tries from halfway and our backline kicked intelligently and defended brilliantly.”
They are now ninth while Kirkcaldy, for whom skipper Josh Laird scored the sole try, are still fifth, but now nine points behind a promotion place.
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While Accies were making sure of five points, so were Gordonians as they saw off Hamilton Bulls 29-8 at Countesswells. The result has jumped them out of the relegation zone into 10th spot for the first time in a few months. Mark Marchbank, Danny Osugo (2) and Andrew Mcinnes scored their tries with Graeme Crawford kicking nine points.
“It was a hard fought win,” said Gorrdonians head coach Ryan Morrice. “We never let Hamilton settle in attack and although they had a lot of the ball for long periods I thought we shut them down well. Having defended most of the first half we emptied the bench and the boys made an impact and gave us the lift we needed.
“We showed that we can be clinical in the opposition ‘22’ by converting five of our seven visits into points. Now we have another massive game this coming weekend away to Falkirk so we need to be at our best once again.”
Euan Ferrie scored a try for Hamilton with Ross Inglis kicking a penalty.
Despite having a gale force wind at their back during the first half, Stew Mel fell behind to a try from Dumfries Saints captain Ewan Miller, but bounced back with two converted tries from Chris Baikie and James Ferguson, with Euan Morrison the man that added the extras.
The Edinburgh side then had Baikie yellow carded and Dumfries’ second unconverted try came through Miller again, but Darren Miller scored a crucial third try for Stew Mel before the break to put them 19-10 ahead and, although Dumfries were camped on the opposition line near the end of the half, it was a nine point game at the break.
With the wind in the second half, Dumfries tried to pin Stew Mel back, but even with a second yellow for persistent infringement shown to Fraser Morrison in the 70th minute, the visitors held on after a scoreless 40 minutes when defences were on top.
“They were immense,” said Stew Mel head coach Jonny Else, before identifying Doug Randall and Willie Malcolm as key men “Firstly, credit must go to Dumfries for making sure the game went ahead, we thank them hugely for all their efforts. Secondly, both sets of the players and the referee need huge credit for playing in such dreadful conditions. Rain is one thing, but the 60mph winds made it extremely difficult to play rugby at times.
“Dumfries played better in the first 30 minutes against the wind, but we took a couple of chances and had an excellent defensive set just after an injury to Euan Morrison which set us up for the second half.
“With no scoring from either side in the second half, we played extremely well into the wind. As well as the pack, James Ferguson had an excellent game in the centre while our teenage winger Jamie Thomson was outstanding, his try saving tackle helped us close out the game.
“Jamie has had an interesting introduction to adult rugby, so far he has played two games for us, but due to the terrible conditions has never touched the ball!”
Stew Mel are now on 61 points with a game in hand over Dumfries on 6o, while Peebles are up to third on 59 after a bonus point 42-7 triumph over Newton Stewart at The Gytes.
The Borderers scored tries through Richard Harrison, Greg Raeburn (2) Ritchie Reed and David Collins while they were also awarded a penalty try, and Raeburn and Donald Anderson shared the kicking duties. Thomas MacDonald scored Newton Stewart’s try with the conversion by Jack Gaw.
“We were delighted to get a win against Newton Stewart having lost on the previous two occasions we’ve played them,” said Peebles head coach Lewis Bertram. “In the first half, the weather was good and we were excellent in attack and very clinical. I was delighted to be 35-7 up at half-time and a bit frustrated we couldn’t keep that intensity in attack up in the second half.
“Credit to Newton Stewart as they really upped their performance in the second half and although I was frustrated in that period from an attacking point of view on the other hand our defence was top notch.”
The Preston Lodge versus GHK and Whitecraigs versus Falkirk matches were postponed.
National League Division Two results –
Gordonians 29 Hamilton Bulls 8
Glasgow Accies 24 Kirkcaldy 5
Peebles 42 Newton Stewart 7
Dumfries Saints 10 Stewart’s Melville 19
How it stands –