Stewartry 40 Dunfermline 26, National League, Division Four

DUNFERMLINE head coach Gavin Emerson admits that his side are heading towards "nervous territory" after a fifth defeat in six games left them looking over their shoulders.

The McKane Park first XV saw a winning position slip from their grasp as Stewartry, who were beaten 45-13 in September's reverse match, fought back to claim victory.

It was a second successive defeat for Dunfermline, who sit sixth in the 10-team National League Division Four, but are just seven points clear of third bottom Greenock Wanderers.

Promoted from Caledonia Region League Division One last season as title winners, opened with four wins from their first five games, but have only claimed victory in one of the six that have followed.

"It's getting into nervous territory now because we're only seven points off the bottom three," Emerson told Press Sport.

"It's just putting more pressure on the remaining games, and, obviously, we've got some tough opposition still to play, so it's putting pressure on those games that are going to be tough anyway.

"We're leaking points off teams that we're capable of beating.

"We've got an opportunity this weekend to try and finish this year on a high. I guess we'll just see what the guys are like when they turn up to training this week, see who turns up, and see who actually cares about making a bit of a difference here, and pushing us a little bit closer to where we're capable of being."

Dunfermline go to Ross High, who are bottom of the table and were beaten at McKane in September, this Saturday (kick off 2pm) in the final match before the league takes a break until January 13.

Emerson will be hoping for a less frustrating afternoon than against Stewartry, of which he said: "We were winning at half-time. I think it was 13-8 or something like that.

"We've lost six games now and five of the games we were winning in the first half, so that tells you we only play rugby for 40 minutes.

"It's a tough one because we held them. They got the lead and then we came back into the game. We scored a really good line-out try on the stroke of half-time, so the message at half-time was let's up the ante. Let's keep going, we've got them on the back foot here, they're going to come into the second half fired up, so we need to really up that.

"We spoke about what we were looking to do for the first 10 minutes of the second half, and we never delivered on it. Guys fell away, guys got tired, maybe a bit mentally tired, I'm not sure. We just let them get back into the game.

"They changed their game plan in the second half, targeting our forwards, and we just never reacted to it.

"A couple of people getting tired again allowed some silly penalties to sneak in, which was then giving them platforms, and obviously giving them easy outs from when we're getting into their space.

"It was a tough one because it was there for the taking, and we just never got onto it. Our line-out, our set piece was working really well, we were putting some pressure on them, but we just couldn't link anything together.

"I think guys' heads started to go down and they started to shy away a bit. That just allowed them to get their tails up even more and put us to the sword.

"A couple of scores at the end flattered the scoreboard at the end, but it was a real tough one."

Elsewhere, Dunfermline's second XV lost out 38-10 at home to leaders Blairgowrie in Caledonia Midlands Region League, Division Two, but their ladies team stay top of the table in stage two of the Caledonia Midlands / East Region League Two thanks to a 28-0 win over Perthshire.

The ladies are due to visit Lismore on Sunday (2pm), but the men's seconds are out of action until January.

Meanwhile, in Caledonia Midlands Region league, Division Three, Rosyth Sharks' match at Strathmore second XV, their last before a break over the festive period, was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.