The pressures of the past week's frenetic activity have taken their toll on Llanelli ahead of tonight's visit to Melrose to face the Edinburgh Reivers, leaving them substantially under-strength.

Among those absent from their side for the Celtic League clash are the two players who made memorable debuts for Wales against Scotland at the Millennium Stadium in March, full back Matt Cardey and stand-off Stephen Jones, whose regular half-back partner Rupert Moon joins him on the bench.

Also missing are international powerhouses Scott Quinnell and Chris Wyatt, while Tongan internationalist Salesi Finau is also

listed among the replacements.

On the face of it, it looks a good opportunity for the Reivers to give departing coach Bob Easson the perfect farewell gift with a victory over Welsh rugby's team of the season, Llanelli having just missed out on getting to the European Cup final and having reached next week's Welsh Cup final.

Indeed, while they still have seven internationalists in their side, it looks as if the visitors - who still need to win one of their last two league matches to secure a European Cup place next season - may be taking the Reivers rather lightly, despite having lost to Glasgow Caledonian Reds on their previous visit to Scotland.

Reivers are also without their playmaker, stand-off Duncan Hodge having had an injection earlier this week into a troublesome shoulder problem, although he stressed that he expects to be fully fit for Scotland's tour of New Zealand, which begins next month.

However his absence and that of his half-back partner in Sunday's win over Bridgend, Iain Fairley, are the only changes to the Reivers' starting line-up, with Heriot's stand-off Gordon Ross partnered by Graeme Burns.

Since today marks the launch of a new marketing tool with the Reivers lively new website, the hope is that this final match of the season will help start a summer campaign to build on the Reivers core support.

For the Reds, meanwhile, the season ends in the same way as they have spent much of the year 2000 so far, on the road.

Their campaign having fizzled out since the turn of the year, they need a win at Neath tonight to be sure of avoiding finishing ignominiously in tenth spot, with only struggling Dunvant and Caerphilly below them.

Finishing on a high note with only a third victory of the season in Wales would offer further encouragement at the end of a week which has seen some of their leading players give Scottish rugby a huge vote of confidence by extending their contracts with the Reds.

That is also underlined by the determination of tonight's debutant, Scottish-qualified New Zealander Michael Bartlett, to take his chance to join the squad.

The 21-year-old winger was due to join the Reds in November, but opted instead to undergo shoulder surgery to ensure that, when he did arrive, he did himself justice. ''I was impressed by the level they are playing at,'' he said. ''I just hope I can make the right impression and can get something sorted out for next season.''

Edinburgh Reivers (v Llanelli at The Greenyards, ko 7pm): C Paterson; K Milligan, K Utterson, G Shiel capt, M Di Rollo; G Ross, G Burns; A Jacobsen, S Scott, B Stewart, G Hayter, I Fullarton, C Mather, G Dall, S Taylor. Replacements - C Sharman, S Lang, I Fairley, T McVie, G McCallum, M Proudfoot, W Mitchell.

Llanelli: G Evans; W Proctor capt, N Davies, D James, M Jones; G Henson, P Horgan; S Emms, R McBryde, J Davies, A Copsey, C Gillies, D Jones, I Jones, H Jenkins. Replacements - M Madden, M Thomas, V Cooper, I Boobyer, R Moon, S Jones, S Finau.

Neath (v Glasgow Caledonian Reds at The Gnoll, ko 7.15pm): M Singer; T Tieuti, J Storey, T Davies, D Williams; C Rees, M Davies; Duncan Jones, M Davies capt, A Millward, S Martin, P Sidoli, Delme Jones, B Sinkinson, N Bonner-Evans. Replacements - R Johnston, A Jacobs, S Stephens, S Jones, R Francis, R Phillips, D James.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds: T Hayes; M Bartlett, I Jardine, J Stuart, A Bulloch; B Irving, A Nicol capt; A Watt, G Scott, G McIlwham, S Campbell, J White, R Reid, D McFadyen, G Simpson. Replacements - R Couper, I McInroy, F Stott, J Petrie, M Waite, D Herrington, G Bulloch.