UPBEAT Glenn Metcalfe

yesterday underlined his confidence that Glasgow Caledonian Reds can kick-start their Celtic League campaign by out-gunning cosmopolitan Newport at Rodney Parade today.

Metcalfe and co will go into action against the multi-national Black and Ambers still smarting from last weekend's defeat by ''local rivals'' Edinburgh Reivers at Hughenden.

However, he firmly believes they are capable of getting back on tracks if they revert to traditional Reds-style fast and open rugby. ''Reivers beat us fair and square because we sat back and let them play their kind of game,'' said the Scotland man.

''At no stage - not even when we were leading 18-3 - were we performing the way we can, and, at the end of the day, we paid the price for not backing our own mode of play.''

He added: ''The result was an enormous disappointment. We have thought long and deeply about what happened, and there is a very strong determination in the squad to repair the damage.

''The Reivers arrived at Hughenden in an extremely committed mood, and that is something we can learn for our visit to Newport. We have to make sure we get the ball into the danger zone much more than we did last weekend.

''We are all aware that Newport is one of the most difficult places to go looking for success, but we simply have to back our own abilities and take them on.''

Metcalfe singled out stand-off Shane Howarth as the prime threat to the Reds. He explained: ''Everything is channelled through him and he calls all the shots. If we can shut him down and play 15-man rugby ourselves, we will be in with a shout.''

He was backed up by back-row man Jon Petrie, who said: ''There is still a deep sense of frustration after what happened last weekend, but we all know whose fault it was.

''Looking back, we probably did let complacency creep in when we opened up the early lead, but all credit to Reivers for upping their game to take full advantage of our mistakes.

''We lost heavily at Newport last year, but we are all looking forward to going back because they have one of the best playing surfaces in Wales and it should suit our style of game.

''We need a big finish to the season because it is important to finish above the Reivers to earn the No.1 seeding for the European Cup. Last season, things tailed off badly - this time, we have to keep it going until the final minute of the final match.''

Caley coach Richie Dixon Dixon watched Newport demolish Dunvant 62-14 in last week's Principality Cup tie, and he admitted: ''They looked very formidable - merciless, in fact.

''They are still in the hunt for the league and cup double, and, from sore experience, we know that if you don't front-up down there they have a team who will flatten you. No matter how close the game might be, they are capable of piling up points quickly.''

Caley's preparations were hit by a late setback last night when skipper Andy Nicol pulled out with a chest infection.

Fraser Stott comes off the bench to start at scrum half with Kenny Sinclair of Glasgow Hawks being drafted into the reserves and hooker Gordon Bulloch taking over the captaincy.

Caley, meanwhile, have granted an early contract release to Alan Watt, the former Scotland prop .

Watt, who is now attached to Hillhead-Jordanhill, is the fourth full cap to be freed this season after Rowen Shepherd, Ian

Jardine, and Stewart Campbell. Teams:

Newport - M Pini; M Mostyn, J Jones-Hughes, A Marinos, M Watkins; S Howarth, D Burn; C Jones, J Richards, A Garvey, S Raiwalui, I Gough, P Buxton, A Popham, G Teichmann (captain). Replacements - R Snow, P Young, G Taylor, J Powell, J Pritchard, S Mitchell, D Edwards.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds - G Metcalfe; J McLaren, A Bulloch, J Stuart, R Kerr; T Hayes, F Stott; D Hilton, A Bulloch, G McIlwham, C Stewart, J White, G Simpson, G Flockhart, J Petrie. Replacements - G Scott, L Harrison, R Reid, D Macfadyen, K Sinclair, B Irving, A Henderson.