Highland head coach Davie Carson was left to rue a costly yellow card in his side’s 38-7 defeat at Gala.
A combination of meeting the National League 1 leaders away from home, and having a key player yellow carded early in the game gave the hosts firm control and they made their advantage count.
Highland coach Carson said: “Gala are a seriously good side who at Netherdale are nigh on unbeatable.
“Getting stand off Scott Fraser sin-binned in 15 minutes proved to be crucial to the outcome.
“But we stuck to the task and I was pleased enough with our performance, although our finishing left a lot to be desired.
“It will be good to get a run of three home games under our belt, next week, keeping us on track for fifth place in the league.”
Gala scored three tries in the 10 minutes Fraser was binned, two of which were converted, effectively taking the game away from the Canal Park side to lead 19-0 at half time.
They then scored immediately after the break to give them a vital try bonus point.
Highland responded with their best spell of the game, scoring a fine try attributed to full back Adriu Muritori converted by Fraser.
But despite a 20 minute spell of pressure, Highland were unable to add to their tally, instead it was Gala who added two late unconverted tries to seal the fate of the northerners.
Highland are at home to Stirling Wolves on Saturday.
Caithness rack up the points against Glenrothes
In Caley Division I Caithness closed in on third place after thrashing bottom side Glenrothes 75-8 at Thurso where winger Danny McLean was a three try hero.
Their nearest rivals for a top three finish Ellon were unable to play Aberdeen Wanderers due to Covid issues.
In Caley 2 North, Ross Sutherland beat 2nd Aberdeen Grammar 34-31.
Caley 4 title race will be settled this weekend
The outcome of the race for the Caley 4 North title involving Dyce, Caithness, Deeside and 3rd Highland became clearer after Deeside took 3rd Highland out of the equation at Banchory thanks to a 50-7 win.
Dyce ended the hopes of Caithness in Aberdeen beating them 26-0.
Now that Dyce have finished their programme, Deeside will win the the league on Saturday should they gain a try bonus point at home to Caithness but only on points difference as befitting this remarkably close finish to the season.
Any other result would hand Dyce the title.