BRADFORD Dragons secured a first National Basketball League Division One win of the season, with an 86-77 comeback home victory over the Essex and Herts Leopards.

A tenacious second-half defensive display was the catalyst for a victorious Dragons revival, but it was the Leopards, who had also lost both games so far, that started much the better of the two teams.

Their talisman Hafeez Abdul came out the blocks red hot, allowing Essex to open up a 19-10 lead within the opening five minutes and by the time the buzzer had sounded, the visitors had fired in six threes to stun the home faithful.

Rihards Šulcs provided a spark off the bench for the hosts to make sure Bradford were within eight points (29-21) heading into the second period.

The Dragons went down by 13 points just moments into the following period, but the introduction of the American Ricky Fetske, who was making his return from injury, spurred the Dragons on defensively.

They subsequently went on a 10-point run of their own to reduce the deficit to two points (41-39), with the sharpshooting of guard Dave Walsh proving vital.

Essex still headed into the locker room up 48-43, but a fine third quarter, culminating in a Fetske slam and Walsh's fourth three of the evening, put Bradford 67-65 in front heading into the final 10 minutes.

A Fetske layup then had Bradford up by four but the Leopards refused to lie down easily and fought back to lead by one.

Down 73-72 with just over six minutes to play, a 5-0 run from Rafi Saipe gave Bradford a lead they would not relinquish.

Fetske knocked down back to back buckets in the final two minutes to confirm an 86-77 victory for the Dragons.

Coach Chris Mellor said: “We got off to a poor start, giving up 29 (points) in the first, and they came out firing from deep. We won the next three quarters and we improved defensively as the game progressed, but we’ve still lots to improve on.”

The Official University of Bradford Player of the Game went to Dave Walsh, who recorded 20 points and four rebounds, while captain Ricky Fetske recorded 15 points and nine rebounds in just 17 minutes of action.

Next up for the Dragons is a home clash against the Loughborough Riders on Saturday, October 19 at 6:15pm.