Glasgow Caledonians v Caerphilly

UNLUCKY Craig Chalmers faces yet another long spell on the sidelines after undergoing keyhole surgery on his damaged knee yesterday.

Not only had the nation's most-capped stand-off been due to make his return for Glasgow Caley Reds in tomorrow's Celtic League tussle with Caerphilly, but he was also in the frame for a call-up to Scotland's World Cup squad as a replacement for John Leslie.

His latest in a long line of recent setbacks came on Wednesday when he suffered a ripped cartilage while making a one-off appearance for his old club, Melrose, against Australian tourists Randwick at the Greenyards.

Despite Chalmers' fresh worries, Caley backs coach and former Melrose man Rob Moffat insisted he would be back in top-flight action as soon as possible - and with a point or two to prove.

Moffat declared: ''I would expect Craig to be out of the game for about eight weeks, but then I would also expect him to be back with a vengeance.

''He has been through a lot over the past few months and there will be a great deal of pent-up energy and frustration in him when he returns. I am certain that he has a pile of good rugby in him yet.''

Meanwhile, Reds selectors have created a surprise by leaving captain Andy Nicol on the bench for tomorrow's Bridgehaugh match.

Moffat firmly rejected suggestions that the move indicated they were not treating Caerphilly as a major threat in the wake of last week's superb victory over Llanelli at Hughenden.

He insisted: ''We have to look at our selection with the whole season in mind and not just the one game. The other two scrum halves in the squad, Fraser Stott and Graeme Beveridge, have had very little top-grade rugby so far this season.

''So it makes sense to give Fraser a run because you never know when Andy might pick up an injury and it would be better for our deputies to have some meaningful action under their belts.''

Cautious head coach Richie Dixon added that his troops would not get carried away after their battling success against Llanelli. He said: ''We have maybe turned a corner - but no more than that.

''One swallow doesn't make a summer and we will have to keep on improving if we are to use the win as a springboard to get back into title contention.''

Dixon added: ''We knew we had to show much more commitment and I was forceful in telling the players that they had been letting themselves down, and they knew that.

''We had never been totally outplayed, the problem was that we just didn't have enough meanness. It was yet another nip-and- tuck game - but this time it was us who got the vital break.''

Caerphilly spokesman Don Llewellyn admitted his team would start as clear-cut underdogs at Bridgehaugh. He said: ''We have made quite a bit of progress since losing heavily to Edinburgh Reivers at the start of the season, but we know we will be up against it.

''Glasgow's victory over Llanelli was a tremendous result for them and they are bound to be buoyed up by it.''

Elsewhere in the league, leaders Pontypridd - fresh from their narrow victory over Reivers at Myreside - take on Ebbw Vale at Sardis Road, while Newport have a tough home encounter with Bridgend.

Llanelli, meanwhile, will be expected to get back on the winning trail at Dunvant.

Scarlets coach Gareth Jenkins said: ''Losing to Glasgow Caley was a painful experience - but one we will learn from. We suffered through our failure to convert pressure into points and that is something we will strive to put right this weekend.'' Teams:

Glasgow Caledonians - B Irving; J Craig, J Stuart, I Jardine, A Bulloch; T Hayes, F Stott; A Watt, G Scott, G McIlwham, S Campbell, D Burns, J White, G Flockhart, D McFadyen. Replacements: I McInroy, A Nicol, G Beveridge, W Anderson, D Hall, S Griffiths, J Petrie.

Caerphilly - E Griffiths; C Batsford, C Murphy, A Palfrey, S Marshall; C John, C Bridges; M Bolton, J Hughes, M Wilson, N Jones, J Lougher, G Jones, A Davies, C Brown. Replacements: J Hooper, P Phillips, D Hawkins, T Carless, D Niblo, P Agar, A Jones.

qBristol coach Bob Dwyer will be relishing the atmosphere at one of the most keenly anticipated local derbies in domestic rugby when Bath visit the Memorial Ground today.

The game would be a big occasion at any time, but with the great West Country rivals third and second in the Allied Dunbar Premiership, there is added spice.

''It didn't take me long after I arrived at Bristol to realise just how important this game is in the area,'' said Dwyer.

''It is a really big match for everyone and it is a bit of extra spice with both sides doing well in the league.

''It is fair to say that we are more evenly matched now than we have been for a long time.''