THERE is always a tingle of anticipation and a nagging fear before a team play their first match of the season.

Have you had a good enough pre-season? Are you playing people out of position? Will your combinations work?

However, Ilkley ticked plenty of boxes on their 2018-19 North Premier debut, defeating opening-day regulars Kendal 33-15 at Stacks Field.

Ilkley's head coach Rhys Morgan said: "I would give us ten out of ten for endeavour and commitment, but only about seven or eight out of ten for our completion rate.

"The lads were watching the video of the game on Tuesday night with Jimmy Lowes and they were quite negative about how they had played but Jimmy was quite positive, which was nice to hear."

One of the boxes that was ticked was Max McKay's move to No 8, with JH Johnson reverting to the backs.

Morgan said: "I told Max that I need him to be more than a 50 per cent player, and he did so well that Kendal awarded him their man of the match, but I told him that he has set himself a level and needs to stick to that.

"It is a while since JH played in the backs and he was a little rusty in certain areas, but I now have the confidence to leave him there for several weeks if needs be, knowing that Max is okay at No 8."

Tries came from Tom Milner (2), Steve Burns, Pete Erskine, from a catch and drive, and Charles 'Chuck' Ramsey, with Charles Morgan adding four conversions.

Morgan senior added: "Chuck did really well at full back against Otley, but ran out of steam in the last 10 minutes, and is learning the position, but we cannot afford to have Charles Morgan sin-binned for ten minutes, and I told him that."

On Saturday, Ilkley are at Sandal, who did the double over them in 2017-18 (21-3 at Stacks Field in January and 37-14 at Standbridge Lane last October) but Ilkley finished seventh to Sandal's 11th.

However, Morgan said: "I do not expect Sandal to be down there again this season, and they only lost 22-18 at Harrogate last weekend."

Ilkley will have Matt Burke, after a registration hiccup last week, and Blake Morgan available this weekend but will be missing Struan Connor.