HAVING faded in the third quarter in most of their recent matches, Bradford Dragons have started a new but equally unwelcome trend – being complacent in the final period of their English National League Division One games.

In what was an almost exact repeat of their match against Leicester Warriors the previous week, the Dragons let a fourth-quarter lead slip through their fingers at home to Team Northumbria.

The visitors, who are chasing a home tie in the end-of-season play-offs, turned a nine-point deficit into an 88-82 victory during the closing stages.

Northumbria started strongly, holding a lead for the majority of the first period until a Dwayne Camille jump shot edged Bradford ahead 24-23 with a couple of seconds remaining.

Backed by a Dragons Den crowd who were as vociferous as they have been for a while, the lead was extended to 46-41 at half-time.

Northumbria coach Marc Steutel then called a time-out when a Jason Swaine jump shot made it 56-48 to the hosts in the third quarter.

That lead became a game-high 13 points at 65-52 when Rihards Sulcs sank a three-pointer with only a minute of the period left, although the advantage was down to nine points at 65-56 by the next break.

Nicholas Moore stretched the Dragons' lead with a two-pointer at the start of the final period but Bradford coach Chris Mellor took a time-out when their advantage was cut to seven.

The break did the trick temporarily as it was soon 71-61 but a combination of missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls, coupled with a vast improvement in Northumbria's shooting accuracy, meant it was a tied game at 73-73.

The Dragons were not done yet, opening a slender lead which they held until the three-quarter stage of the final period, only for the visitors to dominate the last two minutes to triumph, although the crowd made their views perfectly clear about a couple of questionable refereeing decisions.

Sulcs was the Dragons' most valuable player with a double-double of 26 points and 13 rebounds, while Moore hit 16 points.

Mellor said: "We did a lot of positive things once again but ultimately we gave up 32 points in the last quarter after playing good defence for most of the game.

"Even though the referees will be the main focus of attention for some of what they called in the last minute, we only have ourselves to blame."

Bradford now face a vital double-header this weekend against teams who are below them in the table – at Westminster Warriors on Saturday, followed by a home fixture against Tees Valley Mohawks on Sunday (4.15pm).

Victories in both of these games would finally put any relegation fears well and truly to bed.

Meanwhile, the Dragons' under-18s team went down 87-55 at Leeds Tigers on Saturday in the North-East Development League, while the under-14s took the spoils 76-64 at Newcastle Eagles.