IMPROVING game management is high on the list of Ilkley's requirements as they go for the opening victory of the season this weekend.

Head of rugby Rhys Morgan says his third-from-bottom side aren't far away from breaking their duck for the season, following two successive defeats in the North Premier. This included going down to a narrow 26-23 loss at Carlisle last Saturday in a side which included eight new faces.

He hopes Ilkley will have a change in their fortunes when they welcome eighth-placed Macclesfield to Stacks Field.

Putting out starting line-ups has also proven tricky for Morgan already this season due to injuries and unavailability. But Ilkley have been grateful to a tie-up with Otley to boost player numbers. These have included Paul Petchey and Owen Dudman lining up for Ilkley.

Morgan said: "It is starting to come together. On Saturday we were nearly there. It was a bit of a shame.

"It was good to get a bonus point at Carlisle.

"We just needed to control the game. That game management needs to be better. The team of the last three years had game management but that team has broken up now. We need to improve with understanding of game management and tactics. Get them up to speed.

"These lads never give up. I have nothing but admiration for that team. They never complain or whine. We have lads coming out of school who are playing against 29 or 30-year-olds.

"I'm confident we can put things right and be there or thereabouts, starting on Saturday.

"We just keep rolling on. It's a thankless task; it's a full-time job putting two teams out at Ilkley at the moment. We are getting players from Otley who aren't getting a game there coming across to us.

"Our relationship with Otley is crucial at the moment. There is a lot of people doing a lot of work."