DUNFERMLINE'S stay in rugby’s national leagues is over after just once season as they were condemned to the drop at McKane Park on Saturday.

DUNFERMLINE'S stay in rugby’s national leagues is over after just once season as they were condemned to the drop at McKane Park on Saturday.

A 27-17 defeat to Dalziel saw the Motherwell side leapfrog their opponents into third-bottom spot in National League Division Three to leave Dunfermline 11 points adrift of safety with one game of the campaign remaining.

It has been a difficult season for the McKane men and outgoing coach Derek O’Riordan, who had high hopes after sealing promotion from Caledonia League Division One last year, but the loss of fly half Gregor McNeish to Heriot’s in the summer and the retirement of the experienced Maurice Pinkerton through injury did not help their cause in its early stages.

Needing to win their final two games to stand any chance, Dunfermline got off to the worst possible start when the visitors immediately won a penalty on the 10 metre line that was converted by Darren Moon.

The hosts responded well and good interplay by the home forwards and backs took play deep into Dalziel territory but the visitors won the resulting five metre scrum and cleared to halfway.

Driving the ball from the line out Dalziel smuggled the ball suspiciously forward in the maul to release scrum half Cameron King to touch down under the posts for the opening try, which Moon converted.

The home side clawed their way back by winning a line out on 22 metres and a surge by Alex Clarke, supported by Fraser Cowe, put Zac Zropf clear to score under the posts, with the Aussie adding the extra two points.

Dunfermline drew level shortly after when Dalziel were penalised for handling in the scrum and Zropf converted the penalty, but he then pushed a further penalty award narrowly wide.

O’Riordan’s men began the second half brightly and a good run by Clarke was snuffed out short of the line, but Dalziel quickly cleared and in the ensuing loose play secured a penalty in front of the posts to give Moon an easy three points.

Dunfermline continued to compete well but after a drive close in by Martin Punter just failed, Dalziel capitalised on the missed opportunity as they worked their way down field and a ruck on halfway allowed King to break freeing Lee McWhinnie to finish for a converted try.

It looked as though Dunfermline would regret the missed opportunities in the first half but were given heart after Clarke took off on a mazy run from halfway to touch down and give Zropf the easiest of conversions.

Unfortunately for the home support Dalziel commanded possession for the last 10 minutes of the game, continually forcing Dunfermline on the back foot, and their endeavours were rewarded when King touched down for his second try to be converted by Moon to seal the home side’s fate.

They play their final match of the season at home to Irvine on Saturday 28th March with kick off at 3pm.