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League leaders Lovat take on defending champions Newtonmore


By Andrew Henderson


Lovat face the moment of truth tomorrow in their quest to wrench the Mowi Premiership league title from Newtonmore.

The clubs square off at Balgate with Lovat in confident mood after a scorching start to the season.

Empahtic wins over Premiership rivals Lochaber and Caberfeidh as well as two crushing victories over Kinlochshiel have left Fraser Gallagher’s side in confident mood and in the best possible shape to face the reigning champions.

Lovat manager Fraser Gallacher is optimistic about his side's chances against the defending Premiership champions. Pictures: Neil Paterson
Lovat manager Fraser Gallacher is optimistic about his side's chances against the defending Premiership champions. Pictures: Neil Paterson

Gallagher is in bullish mood ahead of the league showdown which if Lovat win would see them open up an eight-point lead over the Badenoch side.

“The lads are high on confidence and right now I would back us to beat any of the top teams in the sport," he said.

"Newtonmore are still the team to beat however so tomorrow will be a huge test, but it is also a big test for them.

"Both of us are scoring goals so hopefully it will be a good game for the fans as well.”

Gallagher scotches the notion of an eight point lead, saying “I don’t really buy that – the gap is not as big as it might look.

"We have played two more games than them and if they get the win tomorrow then it is is more or less back to square one.”

Gallagher will look to his strike force of Mark MacLachlan and Greg Matheson to unpick the meanest defence in shinty.

Lovat’s strike partnership of Marc MacLachlan and Greg Matheson will be key if they are to beat Newtonmore tomorrow.
Lovat’s strike partnership of Marc MacLachlan and Greg Matheson will be key if they are to beat Newtonmore tomorrow.

It was a trick which eluded his side in last season’s Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup final which ended 3-0 in Newtonmore’s favour.

’More defender Rory Kennedy shackled Matheson on that occasion while MacLachlan was forced out early in the second half with injury.

But the acquisition of Fraser Heath from Glenurquhart has added a new dimension to the Lovat attack and with Lewis Tawse also in good form Gallagher has high hopes of crucial breakthrough in his bid to bring the title to Balgate for the first time.

At the back it will be the clash of the captains as Lovat’s Calum Cruden bids to hold ‘More’s prolific scorer and skipper Evan Menzies.

In the midfield Lovat’s Craig Mainland will try to close down the powerful Steve MacDonald in what should be a tasty encounter.

Meanwhile Caberfeidh are back in action after for the first time in two weeks and need a win over Kilmallie to kick start their league campaign.

Kilmallie’s promising start to the season has dimmed recently and they are still smarting from last Saturday’s 5-0 hammering by Newtonmore.

Cabers boss Jodi Gorski will look to goals from Craig Morrison and Kevin Bartlett as seeks his first league win of the 2019 season.

Caberfeidh will be hoping Craig Morrison (left) can help fire them to a first league win of 2019 against Kilmallie.
Caberfeidh will be hoping Craig Morrison (left) can help fire them to a first league win of 2019 against Kilmallie.

Inveraray, also pointless, face Lochaber while in the all-south encounter Kyles and Oban Camanachd meet in Tighnabruaich.

In the final match there is a big test for Kingussie’s young unbeaten side when they head west for a clash with Kinlochshiel.

In the National Division the season has not started well for Beauly whose two opening matches have ended in defeat and they anchor the table.

They face Mid Argyll in Glasgow with manager Alan MacRae welcoming back Jack MacDonald and Conor Ross after they missed the defeat by Skye.

Strathglass have played just one league match and face league leaders Fort William at An Aird.

Glenurquhart look to build momentum in their push for promotion and will be favourites for both points from the visit of Bute to Blairbeg.

Skye are also eyeing one of the two promotion berths but face Oban Celtic at Mossfield in what could be a difficult match for the islanders.



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