LAWRENCE Brown was left disappointed after Essex Leopards started their season with a 76-68 defeat by Bradford Dragons at Southend’s Garon Park on Sunday.

Brown led the Bigs Cats’ scoring with 14 points but that was not enough to stop his side suffering an unexpected defeat in the National Trophy.

And that left Brown gutted at the end of the game.

“The result was very disappointing,” said Brown.

“We had a good first half offensively but our defence let them have too many easy buckets.

“In the second half we made a lot of poor decisions and didn’t pick up our defence to compensate.

“It was definitely one we let get away from us and it was frustrating because I felt we had a good run of pre-season game to prepare us.

“But we just failed to execute on the day.”

Despite the disappointing result, Brown was keen not to be too downbeat.

And he also stressed the plus point of the Leopards’ performance.

“We shared the ball well, especially in the first half and that’s something we have focused on since the first day of training,” said Brown.

“I think you also have to give credit to Bradford because they’ve had rocky start to the season and could have easily given up in the first half.

“But they stuck around and took the opportunity to take the game in the second half.

“I think we all learnt that, despite the talent on our team, we cannot overlook any opponent in this league.”

The Big Cats dominated the first half but let the visitors back into the game leading up to half-time and never regained the initiative as Dragons consigned them to defeat in the first of six group games in the competition Leopards won last season.

Leopards went into the first break with a 22-17 lead and were 40-33 in front at half-time.

But that advantage was wiped out with a 7-0 Dragons run to open the second half but Leopards still led 57-56 at the final break.

However, that proved to be the last time that Leopards were in front as Corono Navarro Alejandro hit a three-pointer to give Bradford the lead at the start of the fourth period.

And some poor offensive decisions then saw the game slip away in the final stages.

Brown and skipper Carl Josey led the Leopards’ scoring with 14 points and the Big Cats will now be looking to bounce back when they host Manchester Magic at the Brentwood Centre in another National Trophy clash on Saturday.

Leopards then return to Garon Park on Sunday as they take on Barking Abbey in the National Cup, tip off 5.30pm.