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Krakens secure a place in last four after nerve-shedding win against Quines

By Iain Grant

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Shannon Pasotti, in action here against Fraserburgh in the Krakens' opening pool game, was among the try-scorers in their 38-34 away victory over Aberdeenshire Quines. Picture: James Gunn
Shannon Pasotti, in action here against Fraserburgh in the Krakens' opening pool game, was among the try-scorers in their 38-34 away victory over Aberdeenshire Quines. Picture: James Gunn

Caithness Krakens' memorable debut season reached new heights when they clinched a place in the last four of a national competition.

Their nerve-shedding 38-34 win away to Aberdeenshire Quines on Saturday moved them level on points with their opponents in the Caley North pool of the Scottish National Bowl.

But, with the city side having completed their four fixtures, they are trumped by Caithness by virtue of the head-to-head record.

Regardless of the standings, Mike Flavell is calling on his players to make it four wins out of four in their last pool game at home to Peterhead.

Saturday's match at Woodside was in many ways a carbon copy of the Krakens' 26-22 league win over the Quines at Millbank at the start of December.

Then, as on Saturday, the Quines struck first before Caithness kicked on without ever being comfortable and survived intense late pressure in which the Quines scored with the last play.

And again the winning margin was achieved by the Krakens' better returns from the kicking tee after each ran in six tries.

Coach Flavell said all 21 contributed to the result in a game in which they were "out on their feet" as they battled tooth and nail to protect their lead in the dying stages.

"It was nip-and-tuck throughout," Flavell said. "Both sides were playing much better rugby that they did in the league match.

"It was very physical and we both had a fair number of turnovers.

"I thought we counter-rucked very well and our back row were immense – Justine Mackay got through a power of work and Helen Richard and Devin Stuart tackled every thing that moved and helped slow down their ball."

He was also delighted that one of their crop of newcomers, Lauren Gunn, capped off a sprightly display on the left wing with a well-executed try.

After the Quines struck first, Caithness hit back to go 17-14 ahead at the interval.

They were never headed thereafter but the game looked very much in the balance when a spell of sustained pressure saw the Quines in for their fifth try to reduce the leeway to 38-29 with five minutes to go.

Flavell said: "They were ferocious in the closing 10 minutes when we were out on our feet.

"We managed to hold out until they scored an unconverted try right at the death.

"Defensively, we were very strong and we weathered long spells when they were camped on our line.

"It would have been more comfortable had we not left a couple of tries on the pitch earlier on."

The Caithness tries came from Stuart (3), Gunn, Kirsty Robertson and Shannon Pasotti.

Megan Douglas kicked three conversions and Robertson chipped in with one.

Chloe Macgregor and Amy McGlashan each scored two tries for the Quines, with the others falling to Amelia Linn and Melissa McIntosh, who added two conversions.

The Krakens have a score to settle with Peterhead after being at the end of a 61-7 hiding from the north-east side in the league in January.

"We may have qualified for the semi-finals but in terms of team development, I would like them to prove how much we have come on from that game in Peterhead," the coach said.

Caitlin Harvey, who played inside centre on Saturday, had to come off with a shoulder injury before the turnaround.

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