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Double weekend is big test for Bradford Dragons
Bradford Dragons will face their biggest test of their season so far as they will face a brace of Division One opponents this weekend.
Tomorrow is National Trophy night as Dragons will go up against Team Northumbria, and on Sunday the Dragons will be back in action against Leeds Carnegie in the second round of the National Cup.
Dragons have had a great start to their season, winning the opening three games, and they are starting to come together as a unit.
Dragons forward Vance Silcott said: "We are gelling together well. It's only been three games but it feels like we have been together a lot longer. Everyone is really positive, which is always a big plus."
Dragons currently lie third in their National Trophy group with two wins, and tomorrow's opponents are just one spot below them in fourth.
Northumbria are newly promoted to Division One following a dominant season last year where rookie coach Marc Steutel took them to league and play-off titles.
They have already claimed the scalp of well-respected Reading Rockets, holding them to an impressively low 44 points in the process.
Coach Steutel always looks to instil a tough defensive mindset into his teams and they will be looking to shut out the Dragons whenever possible.
Bradford Dragons' head coach Chris Mellor has a lot of respect for what Steutel has achieved so far, saying: "They are much more together as a group under his guidance with a tougher mentality and a high emphasis on the defensive end of the floor. I can see them doing really well this season in Division One"
Sunday's match against Leeds Carnegie will see a re-run of the Dragons' opening game of the season, where they claimed a nail-biting one-point win over their local rivals.
This has intensified the rivalry further and both teams will be determined not to be be knocked out of the National Cup by the other.
Carnegie are expecting to have at least one new signing available for the game.
Dragons are looking to compete on all fronts this season and the National Cup is an important competition to them.
Mellor is excited by the prospect of another match with Leeds Carnegie, and said: "We've had some great battles in the last few games, with each one coming down to the closing moments.
"I feel both teams are fairly evenly matched talent-wise, so once again the team that gets the key stops, executes better and holds their nerve will come out on top"
Elsewhere for Bradford, the under-18s men get their season underway with a trip to York Eagles (tip-off 3pm at York College).
Also starting their season are the under-16 boys, who will host Bury Blue Devils (tip-off 12.45pm).
That game will be preceded by the under-14 boys, who face Sheffield Saints at 10.30am. Both games are taking place at Buttershaw Business & Enterprise College.