Bradford Dragons faced a double header road trip at the weekend, falling to their first league defeat of the season at Kent Crusaders (82-76), but then storming to National Cup success with a whitewash victory at WLV Albion (39-113).
The Crusaders, having been relegated to National League division two in 2016, bounced back as league champions, at the first time of asking, with an impressive 19-3 record. They have, however experienced a rocky start to the new season, having lost both their games in the National Trophy and then losing their opening league fixture at Manchester Magic. However, with all three results have been close, the team remained confident that their first victory was just around the corner.
The tennis continued into the second period, however it was the visiting Dragons that managed to take the first real hold on the game, building up an eight-point margin (26-34), with only three and a half minutes of the first half remaining.
Kent started the third quarter with a couple of quick lay-ups, to pull the gap back to two points, before Rihards Sulcs (sponsored by Templewood Photography) put up the first score of the half for the Dragons. However, the home side continued to push hard and it wasn’t long before they put themselves ahead once more, following a couple more lay-ups from Alex Ferguson. But, a combination of scores from Bradford’s Eisley Swaine, Rafi Saipe and Sulcs afforded the Dragons to restore a three-point cushion (56-59) at the end of the penultimate period.
That lead was quickly overturned, by the Crusaders, at the start of the fourth quarter and once they got their noses ahead they never allowed the Dragons a route back into the game. The home side took the victory by six points, 82-76.
Marcus Gooding topped the charts for the Bradford scorers, bucketing 17 points, which included four three-pointers. Rafi Saipe added a further 15 points to his season total and Ricky Fetske also contributed 14 points to the Dragons’ total. Also, worthy of a mention is Eisley Swaine who came from the Dragons’ bench to contribute 11 points to his team’s tally.
However, the game’s high scorer was Kent’s Sean Nealon-Lino who totalled 24 points towards the winning score. The Dragons had an early opportunity to put the disappointment of defeat behind them, as they faced third division WLV Albion (Wolverhampton) in the National Cup third round.
In a totally one-sided affair, the Dragons whitewashed their hosts in all four quarters of the game, to take the victory by a massive seventy-four points (39-113). Fetske repaid coach Mellor’s decision to play him by scoring 23 points for Bradford, whilst Eisley Swaine capped another impressive performance with 19 points (his highest tally to date for the Dragons). Rafi Saipe also continued his rich vein of form, adding another 18 points towards the Dragons’ total.
The Dragons will now host Derby Trailblazers in the fourth round of the competition, with the game due to be played on Sunday 29th October.
Following the weekends fixtures, coach Mellor stated, “Kent was a close game throughout, but our defence was not good enough in the fourth and our rebounding overall was poor. “Against WLV, we got out to a big lead early on and it was a very comfortable win, but it was disappointing to not come home with two wins from the weekend.”
The Dragons play host to Leicester Warriors next Saturday (21st October). Tip off in the Dragons’ Den is at 6:15pm and tickets are available via the club website.
In other news, the Dragons’ under 14’s suffered their first defeat of the season, losing all four quarters on route to an 81-32 score-line at Hatfield Fliers.
Photographs © Alex Daniel Photography