As they make their last appearance of this season at what may become their permanent home next season, Glasgow Caledonian Reds aim to leave the Hughenden crowd begging for more tonight.

Only Scottish/Welsh League leaders Swansea have been more exciting to watch this season, scoring 77 tries to 74 by a Reds side which generally mixes breathtaking attacking with disturbing defensive naivete.

It is, though, that positive attitude which means the Reds know victory tonight will guarantee them superior seeding to Edinburgh Reivers for next season's European Cup draw.

Try count will be the first tie-breaker and with the Scottish sides level on league points (33 each) but with the Reivers having only one match to play - at Pontypridd on Saturday when the Reds visit Swansea - they have scored only 52 tries by comparison.

''People shouldn't be surprised. We have tried to play a game where we can punish teams by scoring tries and when we lose games it is because we haven't done that,'' said Richie Dixon, their coach. ''We don't always take the chances we create, but we have taken more than our share. We intend to continue to play that kind of rugby and the crowd like it because it is fast, it's intense and when we get it right we are hard to live with.

''We know our players are capable of producing that kind of rugby, but it is finding that elusive consistency. It takes two to five years to build a team and it's beginning to show.''

Dixon also readily acknowledges that the team most likely to beat his men are themselves, any chance of making a real impact on the title race having disappeared with some headless performances against Caerphilly, Ebbw Vale and, indeed, the Reivers after they led by 15 points early in the match.

However, he believes the evidence is there that their stylish approach is making its mark.

''It was very encouraging when I was watching the tape of the game on Friday night without any commentary,'' said Dixon. ''You hear all the other noises and it was amazing to hear the number of people shouting for the Reds.

''Maybe it was a direct response to the Pontypridd cheer-leader, but it has been quite noticeable on the tape the last couple of times that not so many are shouting for Glasgow or Caley as for the Reds now. ''The players are beginning to identify with the crowd and the crowd are beginning to identify with them, so it is vitally important to put on a display tomorrow which makes people want to come and see these boys again next season.''

That more than 2000 turned out for a mid-table, end-of-season game was in itself hugely encouraging for those campaigning to base the Reds at Hughenden full-time.

After tonight's match the dreary business of rugby politics, with all its melodramatic posturing, will dominate the week, but the players can only make their statement on the pitch and, on the face of it, they are being offered an opportunity to turn it on for their supporters tonight.

Newport make the trip north with only one of their 11 internationalists, Fijian Simon Raiwalui, in the starting line-up, though two others, Rod Snow, the Canadian prop, and Ian Gough, the Welsh international lock, are on the bench.

Having secured European qualification last week, they are clearly protecting their squad ahead of next week's Welsh Cup final, but Dixon knows that spells danger.

''Like us, at this time of the season they have guys who are playing for contracts and they'll have one or two like we have who are potential players for the future,'' he said. ''If they play the team they have listed it will make them doubly dangerous because players will be looking to catch the coach's eye, while some of them might be playing for places in the final.''

To that end, the Reds themselves are still targeting players to complete their squad for next season's Celtic League and European Cup campaigns.

However, while he has left both out of the side for tonight's match, Dixon declared himself more than satisfied with the way that Barry Irving and Lee Harrison performed against Pontypridd on Friday, demonstrating that they are very much first-team squad material for next season. So, too, is Rory Kerr, the young winger who has shaken off a nightmare sequence of knee injuries to impress hugely in recent weeks.

Ruled out of the side is Shaun Longstaff, who has 'flu, but Andy Nicol, the captain, is expected to shake off a calf knock.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds: G Metcalfe; J McLaren, A Bulloch, J Stuart, R Kerr; T Hayes, A Nicol capt; D Hilton, G Bulloch, G McIlwham, S Griffiths, C Stewart, G Simpson, D Macfadyen, J Petrie. Replacements: L Harrison, D Hall, A N Other, G Flockhart, F Stott, B Irving, I McInroy, A Henderson.

Newport: J Rowles; M Llewellyn, M Watkins, J Prichard, B Breeze; S Mitchell, D Burn; C Jones, P Young, L Fortey, G Taylor, S Raiwalui, J Powell, G Gravell, A Popham. Replacements: R Snow, I Gough, J Richards, P Buxton, N McKim, A Morris, D Edwards.