AFTER the horrors of last weekend, when the Reds were somewhat embarrassed by part-timers Caerphilly, it was vital to get a morale-boosting win against hot favourites from the Welsh/Scottish League, Cross Keys.

It was certainly a win for the Reds, but they must be mindful, ahead of the journey to Bridgend tomorrow and the visit of Neath on Friday, that the sort of complacency shown here at Hughenden will not go unpunished against teams of that calibre.

For the opening 10 minutes of each half, Reds were indecisive and, at times, sloppy, as they were to be again in the closing minutes. Yet, in between times, they played some breathtaking stuff - slick handling, almost of a sevens nature, allowing them to score seven tries.

The poor defence and general slackness that allowed Cross Keys to score four tries was not lost on Reds coach Richie Dixon after the match. ''I was disappointed with our start in both halves, but after such an abject performance last week, you cannot expect to go from that to where you want to be in one easy step,'' he said.

''I thought the effort was better, and when we did the simple things well, our rugby started to flow. All in all, it was pleasing to win, but there are parts of our performance which we have to work on and, to be fair, the lads know that.''

There was no real sense of huge disappointment from Cross Keys coach Dai Rees, who, missing some first team regulars, was in no doubt that it is hard for his part-time players to make a trip like this, come up against full-time professional rugby players, and attempt to come away with a win.

''It was a good game to watch,'' he said. ''Continuity was good from both sides' point of view and we have got to be happy with four tries.

''We have to adapt to this level. A lot of our guys have never played outside of Wales, and they did not stop fighting and pulled back well when it looked as if the Reds were going to steam away.''

That the Reds did not steam away, having eventually got themselves in a position from which to do so in the second half, probably owes something to the raft of changes Dixon made once the game was won.

Getting themselves into that position was harder for the Reds than it should have been. Although Craig Chalmers kicked the home side ahead after five minutes, it was Cross Keys who were the first team to cross the try line.

A superb break from fly half Jaime Webb, assisted by Chalmers stepping outside him, allowed captain and flanker Arthur Howarth to plunge over, Webb himself adding the extra points.

The visitors continued to press, until Chalmers calmed things down with another penalty. It was to be the stand-off's last contribution to the match for, in 15 minutes, he was stretchered off, after a crunching tackle, with concussion. He will miss the next three or four weeks.

Mark McKenzie, playing at full back, took over the goal-kicking duties and was given a chance to put the Reds ahead on 20 minutes, the Cross Keys back line having strayed offside. He successfully goaled the penalty, and it looked as if the home side might just go on to better things, but poor ball retention in the ruck allowed Cross Keys to escape on several occasions.

It was not until after the half-hour mark that the Reds really got going. The introduction of Tommy Hayes for the unfortunate Chalmers had injected a bit of pace into what had been until then a pretty flat back line. A good burst from him allowed prop Gordon McIlwham to thrust towards the line and, when he was held up just short, fellow front row man David Hilton was there to charge over, McKenzie converting.

That try seemed to spark the Reds into action and the next try, when it came, was thanks in the main to forceful running from Gordon Simpson, before lock Steve Griffiths found a gap.

The Reds had their foot to the floor now, and another well-worked score arrived just before half-time, quick hands from Hayes and the impressive Alan Bulloch allowing McKenzie to sneak over.

The whistle for the interval probably came at the wrong time for the home side, and it was 15 minutes into the second period before they again breached the visitors defence. Again it was good handling from the backs which created the gap for Bulloch to scorch in from the halfway line, before Hayes broke to allow flanker Roland Reid a run-in for the first of his three tries.

That made it 40-7, and the result was beyond doubt, but it was no excuse for allowing Cross Keys back into the game. First, the defence parted for prop Glen Stroud to rumble over, and then Craig pulled back a Cross Keys attacker to give away a penalty try.

Those two scores did, however, sandwich a superb effort from Reid, the ball travelling through seven pairs of hands before he fought his way over on the left, but the visitors scored again through Keith Stewart.

That left Reid to complete the hat trick in injury time after a quick tap penalty.

So, a win for the Reds. Not half as convincing as it should have been, and they will face a tougher test when they go to Bridgend.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds - M McKenzie; J Steel, A Bulloch, J Stuart, J Craig; C Chalmers (T Hayes 15min, R Shepherd 68), C Black (G Young 68); D Hilton (A Watt 65), G Bulloch (G Scott 60), G McIlwham, S Griffiths, J White (D Burns 60), R Reid, G Simpson (G Flockhart 60), J Petrie.

Cross Keys - C Bushell; S Crane, G Bowen, M McCarthy (A Price 65), S Reed; J Webb, C Ellis (T Walsh 55); G Stroud, L Gardner (A Gibbs 50), M Jones (K Stewart 50), D Davis, N Kelly (G Hicks 50), R Williams (D Crimmins 50), A Howarth, P Watkins (W Thomas 65).

Referee - A Ireland.

Scoring sequence (Caley Reds first): 3-0, 3-5, 3-7, 6-7, 9-7, 14-7, 16-7, 21-7, 26-7, 28-7 (half-time); 33-7, 38-7, 40-7, 40-12, 40-14, 45-14, 47-14, 47-19, 47-21, 47-26, 47-28, 52-28.

Scorers: Caley Reds: Tries - D Hilton (33), S Griffiths (39), M McKenzie (40), A Bulloch (55), R Reid (57, 65, 80). Conversions - M McKenzie (33, 40, 57, 65). Penalties - C Chalmers (5, 10), McKenzie (20). Cross Keys: Tries - A Howarth (8), G Stroud (61). Penalty try - (74), K Stewart (80). Conversions - J Webb (8, 61, 74, 80).