MANCHESTER Magic gave Bradford Dragons a lesson in what they need to aspire to to compete at the top end of the National League First Division, coming away from the Dragons' Den with a 97-74 victory.

It was the Lancastrians' third triumph over the Dragons this season after wins in the National Trophy and National Cup but the improving Dragons had hoped to get closer to them this time.

Equality lasted for two minutes as Manchester showed why they are the leaders, capitalising on the defensive frailties that have plagued the hosts this season.

One of the last things that Bradford wanted was an injury but captain Jermayne Laing limped out of the game with less than four minutes played, being replaced by Eisley Swaine, who has grown in stature as the campaign has progressed and now looks comfortable at this level.

However, the visitors led 26-18 at the end of the first quarter and, as the Dragons missed shots and turned over possession, it was 49-34 at half-time, with only an Adria Vinas three-pointer on the buzzer, keeping the Dragons within 15 points.

As in the first half, Bradford were the first to register a score after the break, but again the visitors were generally in control, opening the lead up to 22 within three minutes.

As Manchester started to ease off the gas a little, their hosts pulled the deficit back to 71-54 at the end of the third period but it was soon back to 22 at 76-54 in the fourth quarter and it finished at 97-74.

For the Dragons, American power forward, Nick Moore, who scored the final points of the game with a jump shot, notched up yet another double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds, Jason Swaine contributing 15 points, Vinas 14 and Eisley Swaine 12.

Dragons' coach Chris Mellor said: “We were second best on the night. Our rebounding and overall defence was poor and never put us in any position to make a significant inroad into the lead they had.”

Dragons’ under-18s went down 78-35 to Durham Wildcats in the curtain raiser, while the under-16s were forced to forfeit their game at City of Birmingham.

The Dragons' senior team return to action in a re-arranged home fixture against Reading Rockets on Saturday, January 9 (6.15pm), followed by a National Trophy quarter-final at Westminster Warriors the following day.