DUNFERMLINE Rugby Club's men's first XV are scheduled to play their first game of 2024 on Saturday after an opening half of the season their head coach has described as a "real learning curve".

Glasgow-based Whitecraigs are set to make the trip west to McKane Park as play resumes in National League Division Four following a four-week break over the festive period.

Gavin Emerson's Dunfermline side ended a successful 2023 on a high, winning 43-19 at Ross High, as they continue their bid to try and consolidate their place in the league following promotion last season.

They sit sixth in the table, having won six and accumulated 32 points from their 12 fixtures so far, with six matches of their league campaign to go.

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"I think this first half of the season has been a real learning curve, but I still always come back to the age of our team. The boys have probably learned a lot this first season," Emerson told Press Sport prior to the mid-season break.

"I wouldn't say we're safe (from relegation) yet, but we're just about there.

"We've lost six games in total, but we've lost five games which we were winning in the first half, then lost them in the second half.

"I'm going to show them this is where we could be in the league had we won those two games extra, those three games extra, not including the bonus point, just to show them how fine the margins are in this sort of league and, if we'd kept the foot on the gas, we could be in a much different position.

"It's to show the ability the boys have if we just stay focused and work a little bit harder in certain areas of the game where we could be.

"If you look at the table, we're sitting sixth at the moment. Obviously, there's still a few games to play, and we've got the majority of them at home, but it's just showing the guys that we just need to focus a little bit more, and we could really be sitting at the top end of that league.

"We started really well, but then other teams found their groove a bit. I think, ultimately, the first half of the season has just massively been about learning.

"We said this at the start - every week's going to be like your top end of the league games. It's just us being getting used to that level, but then also just managing our squad as well, with the pressures and the intensity these games have, with regards the boys' load, and maybe having to rest some boys each week, just to ensure we prolong how long we can use them for in the season.

"We're in a good position. We're on course for staying in the league, which is the main aim this season.

"If we target these games, we could be in the top end come the end of the season."

Saturday's match at McKane Park kicks off at 2pm. At the same time, Dunfermline's second XV host Aberfeldy in Caledonia Midlands Region League, Division Two, and, in Division Three, Rosyth Sharks visit Waid Academy, also at 2pm.