Dunfermline 26 Whitecraigs 36

National League Division Four

DUNFERMLINE head coach Gavin Emerson is set to make a "statement" with changes to his side after they fell to a seventh league loss of the season on Saturday.

Despite running in four tries, the McKane Park club's first XV conceded six as their first match of 2024 ended in disappointment.

Emerson's team lost by nine points to their Glasgow-based opponents November's reverse fixture, one of two successive losses before they defeated Ross High in their final match before the festive winter break.

They couldn't, however, turn the tables, with their head coach frustrated with elements of their performance.

Dunfermline Press: Dunfermline lost out to Whitecraigs on Saturday.Dunfermline lost out to Whitecraigs on Saturday. (Image: David Wardle.)

"The key message going into that game was we need to work for 80 minutes," Emerson told Press Sport.

"We lost the game by nine points when we went over to Glasgow, we were winning at half-time, and we came away with the bonus point from the first half, so we knew we were capable of scoring tries. It was just that we needed to do it for 80 minutes.

"They scored first. Their kicker wasn't the best in the first half, so he missed the first conversion, we came back and scored, converted, then they scored again, so we went into the break 10-7 to them.

"We were thinking that's fine, we've not really performed much in the first half so, second half, we need to switch on. The guys came out of the blocks really good; we were getting over the scores, so it was kind of to-ing and fro-ing a wee bit. We were always one point behind, and then, into the latter end of the second half, we had a yellow card, and they started coming back in.

"We got up to their area and then it was just the final passes - we weren't executing them well. Then there was a couple of things went on, whether it was a knock-on or not, they ended up running down the length of the park, we got back, fielded it, then they kept on the pressure, and then they scored.

"The game started running away from us a wee bit, so it was really disappointing.

Dunfermline Press:

"The message to them now is we need to stop making excuses - we need to start performing. That was a game we should've taken five points from and put ourselves in a really comfortable position for the remainder of the season, and we kinda let ourselves down by not performing to our ability.

"We could put little excuses down that we lost two key forwards early on in the game, so we had to use our subs earlier, but, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. We picked 19 players that are capable of being in the first XV for that game and not allowing the quality of what we've got on the pitch to drop.

Dunfermline Press:

"It's up to them. We're in a position where we've got to go to Strathmore this weekend and get some points, and then we've got Greenock at home the following week which, again, we should be taking five points from.

"It's up to the players to start putting the work in now. We're looking at selection this week and we're looking at making some big changes, and some statements, to players that maybe feel comfortable."

Dunfermline, whose second XV lost 30-21 to Aberfeldy in Caledonia Midlands Region League Division Two, are scheduled to visit third-placed Strathmore on Saturday for a 2pm kick off.

At the same time, the seconds are due to travel to Glenrothes.