Glasgow Caledonian Reds face Pontypridd at Hughenden tonight (ko 7pm) knowing they must overcome their jinx side to retain pole position for European seeding as they head into the final week of the Scottish/Welsh League season.

Given that they have beaten Cardiff, Llanelli, and Newport this season, it is remarkable that Pontypridd have proved such a tough nut for the Reds to crack.

On the only occasion they looked like winning so far, freakish weather conditions wiped out the game at half-time, and in the rearranged match they were well beaten at Sardis Road last month.

In their domestic battle with Edinburgh Reivers, it is vital that the Reds win tonight since back-to-back wins in next week's matches against Newport, at Hughenden and Swansea, a fixture at which the leaders could be crowned champions at St Helens, are unlikely.

The absence of flu victim Tommy Hayes is a blow, but for Barry Irving, this match represents a long-awaited opportunity since his last start was in the embarrassing defeat in this season's league opener against Caerphilly.

The three other changes are to the pack, where Donnie Macfadyen, Steve Griffiths, and Lee Harrison all return, while Jon Petrie switches back to his international slot at No.8.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds: G Metcalfe; J McLaren, A Bulloch, J Stuart, R Kerr; B Irving, A Nicol capt; D Hilton, G Bulloch, L Harrison, C Stewart, S Griffiths, G Simpson, D Macfadyen, J Petrie. Replacements - C Docherty, G McIlwham, G perrett, G Flockhart, F Stott, I McInroy, S Longstaff.

Pontypridd: B Davey; L Woodard, J Lewis, S Parker, G Wyatt; C Sweeney, P John (capt); G Jenkins, F Vunipola, S Cronk, W James, R Sidoli, R Parks, R Field, M Owen. Replacements - R Neville, L Jarvis, J Colderley, C Williams, J Evans, M Lloyd, P Graham.

l Edinburgh Reivers will go into their final home match in the Scottish/Welsh League against Neath tonight at Riverside Park without Simon Taylor, their newly named British Lions squad member.

The Scotland No.8 injured an ankle in the final few minutes of Reivers' match against Llanelli last weekend and was automatically ruled out for the Neath game. ''Simon wanted to play,'' said Reivers coach Frank Hadden. ''There is a possibility that he will be fit for our final game against Pontypridd.''

At this stage there seems no likelihood that the ankle ligament injury Taylor picked up at Stradey Park will affect his Lions tour, but there is little question that the superteam would have wanted Taylor for a game that is important to the Reivers in terms of convincing sceptics of the current professional system in Scotland. Also missing from the Reivers team because of injury is Richard Metcalfe. His place in the second row goes to the versatile Andrew Dall, a player who could find himself in a more permanent arrangement with the superteam next season.

Hadden believes that Reivers had ''turned the corner this year.'' He said: ''There has been im-provement, notably in the last three games, in which we've scored 15 tries.''

Edinburgh Reivers: C Paterson; C Murray, M Di Rollo, K Utterson, C Sharman; D Hodge, G Burns; A Jacobsen, S Scott, C Smith, I Fullarton, A Dall, D Mackinnon (captain), M Leslie, G Dall. Replacements P Robertson, B Douglas, P Simpson, I Sinclair, I Fairley, G Shiel, C Joiner.

Neath: G Morris; K James, J Storey, T Tiueti, S Williams; P Horgan, A Booth; D Jones, S Jones, A Millward, S Martin, G Llewellyn, K Tuipolotu, N Bonner-Evans, B Sinkinson. Replacements D Pugh, T Davies, M Davies, S Tandy, A Jackson, P Jones, A Howells.