Newly-promoted Newton Stewart were given a taste of how tough life may be in National Division 2 when they travelled to Kirkcaldy on Saturday.
The Fife side, relegated from National 1, ran out 89-19 winners in a National League Cup preliminary round clash.
A depleted Newton Stewart came under pressure in the opening minutes from a physical Kirkcaldy side and captain Mark McCornick took a nasty blow to his shoulder in the early exchanges which saw the end of his involvement in the game.
Kirkcaldy found some space on the left wing to run in their first of 12 tries and two more, both converted, quickly followed.
The rest of the first half was a tough shift for the team as Kirkcaldy showed what strong opposition they are. Some powerful carrying from their blind-side flanker and the devastating hand-off of their number 8 played havoc with the normally reliable Newton Stewart defences.
But as well as their hosts played, Newton Stewart were seriously under-par. They stood off their sizable opponents and gave them too many opportunities and although Fraser Morton scored a consolatory try late in the first half with a good display of speed and strength, but the Reds went into the break 54–5 behind.
Kirkcaldy still had the upper hand after the break, but the Reds had more fire about them and put in a far stronger second half performance after some strong words followed from coach Martin Wallace.
Calum Gaw was denied a try by an illegal tackle which resulted in a penalty try for the Reds. Then a few minutes later he did make it across the line for a third Newton Stewart try, this one converted by his brother Jack.
Discipline was lacking on both sides by the end of this game. Newton Stewart were issued two yellow cards (Jamie Muir and Fraser Morton) for a deliberate knock-on and a high tackle.
Kirkcaldy received the same in return for two dangerous tackles. By the time the final whistle blew at 80-19 Newton Stewart were left licking their wounds.
There were few positive feelings immediately after the game and some trepidation about what the rest of the season might bring in this new higher level of rugby for the Reds. However, there were a few contributing factors which may have played a role in this result.
On Saturday the Reds travel to Glasgow Accies RFC to take on their old rivals in Anniesland in their National Division 2 opener which will be key to setting the tone for the season.