BRADFORD Dragons left it late to seal their quarter-final berth in the National Trophy.

The Dragons were only ahead of visitors Derby Trailblazers on points difference before the match at Bradford College and the outcome, with both teams needing victory to progress, was similarly close.

Derby had two shots to win it inside the final ten seconds but failed with both as Bradford sneaked victory 86-85.

Having won their opening three games and lost the next four – two heavily at Manchester Magic on successive weekends – the Dragons were still without long-serving forward Rihards Sulcs, who is scheduled for an operation on his injured knee later this week.

However, Jason Swaine and Adria Rodriguez Vinas played through the pain of jogger's heel, which has been dogging both players in recent weeks.

In a scratchy opening period, the home side led 13-4 after four and a half minutes, forcing Derby to call an early time-out, and they increased their lead to 29-17 at quarter-time thanks to trademark baskets by Jason Swaine and Nick Moore.

Within three and a half minutes, however, Derby were only trailing 35-31, forcing a Dragons time-out.

The visitors eased into a 48-44 interval lead and were 63-61 ahead at three-quarter time, only for them to call for another stoppage after Bradford went ahead.

Two more Bradford time-outs followed – one at 76-76 and another when they were two points behind but with two Moore free-throws to follow.

He sank one of them with 18.1 seconds remaining but Derby then called their final time-out and, being in possession, seemed in charge.

However, Henri Bongoma had other ideas, stealing the ball. Although he missed his lay-up, Moore took the rebound and sunk it to put the Dragons a point up with ten seconds left.

Derby had chances via Sydney Donaldson, with a three-point effort which bounced off the ring, and Dan Watts, whose shot hit the back of the ring and spun out.

Match-winner Moore topped the scoring charts on 33, with Bongoma getting 29 – including four out of six three-pointers.

Rafi Saipe also played a crucial role, restricting 20-point man Watts to a mere three points.

Dragons coach Chris Mellor said: "We got off to a great start but then Derby started to find their range and it was pretty much basket for basket the rest of the way.

"We struggled on the boards again but I was pleased with the way we kept fighting and, fortunately for us, Nick managed to chase Henri's lay-up and we hung on at the end.

"Both Nick and Henri put in big offensive performances, while Rafi and Jermayne Laing's defensive efforts were big factors in the win."

The Dragons will now face the winners of the southern pool in the quarter-finals on Sunday, January 10.

Meanwhile, Bradford open their National League Division One campaign against promoted London Lituanica at the Dragons' Den on Saturday (6.15pm). Tickets are available in advance via the Dragons' website.

Bradford's under-18s were beaten 69-49 by Gateshead Phoenix II in the curtain-raiser to the Trailblazers game, while the under-14s opened their campaign with a 91-24 victory at Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows.

* Dragons junior Jayden Martin has been shortlisted by Basketball England to attend the Youth Sport Trust's national talent camp at Loughborough University in December.