RHYS Morgan concedes this season has been his hardest in his decade in charge of Ilkley.

The club's head of rugby is facing a huge rebuilding job at Stacks Field, having to largely rely on youngsters to carry them through what has turned out to be a tough season so far.

Ilkley are rock bottom of North Premier with just six points following a poor run of just one win from their opening 11 games of the season. They are cut adrift by 11 points from second-from-bottom Alnwick.

Ilkley's woes continued on Saturday with a 32-21 home defeat against third-from-bottom Rossendale. They put on an impressive second-half display as they recovered from being 29-0 down.

Morgan wants to see more of his side's second-half showing against Rossendale in their two games coming up to end their year on a high.

Ilkley now have a home date with fifth-placed Sandal on Saturday. They wrap up their clashes for 2019 with a trip to ninth-placed Kirkby Lonsdale on Saturday, December 14.

Morgan said: "I said last year was the hardest season. We had a real turnover of players. It was a really, really hard season. We lost 12 players.

"This season we lost eight players and it's been tough, it's been hard work.

"It's been very testing. There have been a lot of questions asked of the players and me.

"Every week I have to question who I can put out. I have to think 'can I put a team out?' rather than 'who can I select?' It's not a good place to be in. You want good, healthy competition for places.

"It's been a very very tough year.

"I have been in this position once before with another club and we managed to pull ourselves out of it. I'm not living in cloud cuckoo land, I know it's going to be tough. I'm not expecting a lot from the next two weeks. We need to regroup.

"I'm under no illusions. We've got to stick together and work hard and see what we can get out of it. There's no reason why we can't pick up a win.

"We are adapting and changing a few things in training.

"We will certainly have a crack at it. This is when we find out about ourselves and the people who are committed to Ilkley. You find out who our friends are and who is loyal.

"The next three or four months will be interesting times."

Morgan added his young side, which includes a number of players in their late teens, need to learn from mistakes made during matches and not repeat them in subsequent games.

He was encouraged by Ilkley's second-half comeback against Rossendale but says his side were bullied during the opening period.

He said: "It was not a good start. The comeback shows they have character and shows they are learning and shows they have an understanding to compete.

"We can't front up against teams and forget it the week after.

"They need to learn from it and not make the same mistakes."