ILKLEY'S head of rugby, Rhys Morgan, has urged his players to display better game management skills and greater mental strength ahead of this weekend's 'must-win' clash with Alnwick.

His side have lost all four of their games so far in the North Premier League, but there were two close defeats, to Carlisle (26-23) and Macclesfield (32-25), which he feels were easily avoidable.

Morgan said: "When you're up by two scores with 20 minutes to go, like we were against Macclesfield, you have to kill the game off.

"But Charlie and Elliott (Morgan) learnt how to game manage in their time here, and these boys will do the same.

"They need a bit of self-belief too. I saw heads go down when we conceded against Carlisle late on, yet we were still three points ahead at that stage.

"We just need to have more confidence in games and get more breaks. We've got to look at our commitment and concentration and (first-team coach) Steve Boden has been working hard on that.

"Remember, if we hadn't made simple mistakes against Carlisle and Macclesfield, we'd have two wins from four and wouldn't be looking at Alnwick as a must-win game."

Morgan admitted that he had been on worse runs than this as a coach, but that is best to stop the rot as soon as possible, starting with Saturday's home game at Stacks Field.

He mused: "We have got to win our home games and Alnwick are another struggling side (one win from their opening four games).

"We can't discount this game, like one against Harrogate, who are basically semi-pro, and we can't leave it too late to start moving up the table.

"We've had runs of seven or eight games without a win in previous years so I know from experience that we can change it.

"The sooner you do that, the easier it is. I'm not going to say it's like a World Cup or FA Cup final for us on Saturday, but a win gives us the opportunity to get our confidence up."

Ilkley have a new-look side and structure this season, which Morgan feels may have played a part in their slow start. However, he has still seen plenty to be impressed by.

He said: "Joe Lowes is the new captain and Chuckie (Charles) Ramsay is the new vice captain so they're getting used to those roles.

"We've got a new structure in attack and our defence has changed too. Once we get used to that things will become easier.

"But in terms of our new young players, Harry Harrison has got a lot to offer at 13 (centre) even though he's maybe more of a winger. He's been really good, a great addition.

"It's been great to have Louis Fraser on board with us too. He'll learn and get stronger. He's a guy for the future.

"At Ilkley, we want to offer people the chance to push on and we put a lot into development.

"We know we can turn them into quality players and when the time comes for them to move on to a higher division, then we know they've done well and so have we."