BRADFORD Dragons would probably have settled for a win and a defeat from their two National Basketball League Division One fixtures last weekend.

However, what will have surprised them was the way that came about, with the Dragons losing 80-74 at home to Leicester Warriors but winning 74-70 at last season's champions Essex Leopards.

Despite losing at Leicester earlier this season, Bradford have a good record against the Warriors in recent seasons and were expecting to win.

But Leicester, who included former Dragon Carl Pearson in their starting five, were 18-17 in front at the end of the first quarter, having led by eight points at one stage.

By half-time, the hosts were 36-35 in front and, in a change from the norm, they had a good third quarter, leading 61-55 going into the final period.

But Leicester, coached by former England international Karl Brown, were far from finished and engineered a 12-point turnaround to win.

Nicholas Moore led the scoring for Dragons with 20 points, while Rihards Sulcs contributed 14 points and Jason Swaine nine. For the Warriors, T Rothstein scored 26 points.

The following day, the Dragons needed to pick themselves up for the long journey to Essex Leopards, who, although a very different opponent to last season’s table-toppers, are still proving to be a major force.

The Dragons held the lead for the opening five minutes of the game, but trailed 15-14 at the end of a topsy-turvy first quarter.

By half-time, the visitors were 31-25 to the good, and they extended that to 11 in the third period before being pegged back to 52-48.

The final period was as seesaw as the first but, instead of letting their heads drop when the Leopards levelled, the Dragons finished the stronger to triumph.

Moore notched another double-double with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Sulcs followed him with 14 points and ten rebounds, and Henri Bongoma scored a very respectable 11 points.

Dragons coach Chris Mellor said: "Against Leicester, we started poorly and, even though we were up a point at half-time, our effort, concentration and execution was nowhere near where it should have been.

"Things improved in the third quarter but we didn’t build a big enough lead and they hung around. I messed things up with rotations in the last quarter, but they (Leicester) deserved the win.”

“At Essex, defensively we were much better, right from the tip, both from individuals and as a team.

"Even though they tied the game after we blew the lead, we kept our composure and closed out well.”

It was certainly an important win for the Dragons, as weekend victories for Kent Crusaders and Tees Valley Mohawks would otherwise have pulled Bradford back into the relegation dogfight.

As things stand, Bradford remain 11th position, two points behind tenth-placed Worthing Thunder, who are yet to visit the Dragons Den this season, and ninth-placed Leicester.

On Saturday, Team Northumbria visit (6.15), the Newcastle outfit having edged the reverse fixture 86-83 in November.

Elsewhere, in a curtain-raiser to the Warriors match, Dragons' under-18s beat Leeds Force II 79-75 in a game that went into overtime, while, earlier in the day, Dragons' under-16s beat Manchester Giants 69-54 at Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College, but lost 117-48 at Manchester Magic the following day.