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Caithness Krakens overcome Storm Babet and Stornoway to record one-sided victory at Millbank in Women's Caledonia North Two

By Iain Grant

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Caithness Krakens overcame stuffy opponents and brutal weather conditions on Saturday to record a third win in Women's Caley North League 2.

Their 41-0 win over Stornoway was one of the few outdoor sporting fixtures to go ahead in the Highlands and Islands.

Caithness Krakens and Stornoway Ladies celebrate beating the weather and finishing the match
Caithness Krakens and Stornoway Ladies celebrate beating the weather and finishing the match

With rugby, football and shinty cards throughout the region decimated by the onset of Storm Babet, many would have thought the Krakens' fixture would have been one of the first to succumb – but the resilient Lewis side pressed ahead with their flight to Inverness on Friday evening followed by a bus trip up the A9.

Despite the heavy overnight downpour, Millbank was free of lying water though the players had to contend with torrential showers and an ice-cold wind buffeting across the pitch.

The home side were bidding to follow up their 38-24 win in Stornoway in their last outing to maintain their pursuit of league leaders Highland.

It was soon apparent that the visitors, while competitive at the breakdown and close-quarters engagements, would struggle to contain the Krakens' long-range strike runners.

Within a minute, exile Kirsty Stewart was romping down the right on a 50 metre break only to be downed by a last-ditch tackle.

Caithness maintained the pressure and a slick right-to-left sequence created an overload for centre Lauren Gunn to touch down.

On five minutes, they doubled their lead when number eight Emmy Smith latched on to a stray pass to sprint clear.

Stornoway were sticking to their guns in defence off the set-piece and enjoyed decent spells with the ball, but their vulnerability was again exposed when a turnover at a maul created the space for Inverness-based Robertson to again show a clean pair of heels to outflank the cover defence to touch down.

Next over was replacement Donna Edwards who finished off a spell of pressure in the red zone with a powerful burst to the line.

Before half-time, Smith ran in another long-range score, which Robertson converted to put her side 27-0 in front.

Emmy Smith leaves the Stornoway players in her wake as she sprints to the try line to score. Picture: James Gunn
Emmy Smith leaves the Stornoway players in her wake as she sprints to the try line to score. Picture: James Gunn

Justine Mackay and Heather Stewart carried well for the Krakens as they continued to dominate after the interval.

Another clean break saw Robertson breeze clear for her second before Gunn put Smith over for her third.

Robertson added her third conversion before the dreadful conditions led Inverness ref Gavin McDonald to call a premature halt to the game on player welfare grounds.

Stornoway left soon after the game for the return bus trip and ferry crossing over the Minch.

Krakens coach Mike Flavell was gushing in his praise for the island side defying the odds in fulfilling the fixture.

"We are all delighted they managed to come," he said.

"As far as we are concerned, they are absolute legends for making the journey up."

He said the weather made it very challenging but he reckoned both sides deserve credit for making it an entertaining tussle, adding: "I thought the effort put by both sides was really good.

"It certainly wasn't a day for champagne rugby but I thought the handling was outstanding given the swirling wind and the very wet conditions. Fair play to Stornoway, they stuck in throughout and never gave up."

Helen Richard wins a line out. Picture: James Gunn
Helen Richard wins a line out. Picture: James Gunn

Flavell and his assistant Gary Mackay have been focusing in recent weeks on toughening up the Krakens' defence.

"We've been concerned about the number of tries we've been conceding,"he said.

"As a result, we've been working to try and improve our defensive line speed and putting more pressure on the opposition. It was much better on Saturday so that was a big plus."

Flavell added: "We set out this season to challenge for the top spot. We are currently second behind Highland and it could all come down to our last game against them up here."

The Krakens have no game on Saturday before their trip to Elgin to play Moray on November 4 and Highland the following week.

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