THE head coach of Dunfermline Rugby Club's men's first XV has praised the squad for consolidating their place in National League Division Four.

Gavin Emerson said that, whilst it has been a challenging campaign for the McKane Park outfit, he was "over the moon" they'd finished "in a good space".

Dunfermline were playing at national level for the first time since 2015, after winning the Caledonia Region League Division One title last year, and have finished in sixth place.

That ensured they avoided relegation, having won eight of their 18 matches, and Emerson is hopeful they can continue to progress next season.

READ MORE: Dunfermline end league season with Strathmore loss

"Overall, as I expected, it's been a challenging season with stepping up a level, and and just trying to keep the guys looking at small positives because, realistically, we knew we were never going to go in and win every single game," he said.

"Although that would've been lovely to do, with the step up in level, this will have been the highest level of club rugby they'll have ever played. I'm over the moon we've finished in a good space.

Dunfermline Press: Gavin Emerson has been pleased with his team's season.Gavin Emerson has been pleased with his team's season. (Image: David Wardle.)

"There are different ways to look at success. Obviously the guys have jumped up, we've played well, we've held our own in every game we've played, some more than others, but, in every game we've played, probably bar Garnock (league winners), we've always been in them.

"It all depends on if the guys take away the individual work-ons through the summer - get a bit fitter, get a bit more physically conditioned. That's been our biggest thing; we've just been a bit smaller, a bit weaker than the other teams, and that comes down to the lads putting in the work away from the training pitch."

Emerson, who revealed that there are plans to create a gym facility at McKane during the summer, said that working on strength and fitness and game analysis can help his players improve further next season.

"They all add up because we've shown we're more than capable on the pitch, it's just those little things we can add in to our individual skill set, or the team skill set, and build on those," he continued.

"It's really positive that it's things that we, or the players, can fix, we can improve. We're capable of holding our own. We've shown that we're a middle level table team, but if we do these one per centers, we'll move up the table.

"The lads will get nine weeks off to reflect and just have a look at what's good.

Dunfermline Press: Dunfermline were promoted from the regional leagues last season.Dunfermline were promoted from the regional leagues last season. (Image: David Wardle.)

"When I speak to them, it's like 'it's not been amazing', but I'm saying why hasn't it been amazing? Then they think about it, and then they're like, actually, it has been really good.

"We're in a national level where we've shown we deserve to be there, we've shown we're capable to be there, so I think it is exciting. Little bits of self improvement, as well as for the coaches, a bit of reflection of the season, and then we can go from good to great.

"It is a tough season on the bodies for the boys as well. We never forget that everyone's got stuff away from the rugby. They've got families, they've got kids, jobs, mortgages and stuff. They've got so much on and when you add the rugby on to their plate as well, I commend them for their commitment, but if we really want to push on and do better, we really need to hold that commitment for the nine months.

"It has been a tough season, mentally as well for the coaches, but looking back at it, I want to be here next season. I enjoy it. I really enjoy the club, I like the lads, I like what they're about and I like seeing them develop.

"We just need to really have a break, reflect, and then come back and think what do we need to do better? What can we do better? What did we miss this season?

"We've seen what the level is. We know what the level is that we expect the boys to work at, so we just need to try and push that into training and make it become such that Saturday is not as hard work, because they've pushed that hard through the week that Saturday's a little bit lighter, they know what they're doing, they're working as a 15, as a 19.

"Then it's all on the table for us."