Top-of-the-league Worcester Wolves were made to work hard for a 68-57 success at mid-table Derby Trailblazers on Sunday.

By three-quarters into the match Wolves had swept 56-36 ahead before a Trailblazers revival dragged their visitors into a scrap in order to record a perfect five-win start to the season.

Wilfrid Santhe top scored with 16 points, whilst Matei Balteanu provided 14 points, followed by Ian Vivero-Rodriguez notching 11.

Worcester’s numbers were boosted by the return of standout players Lucas McGregor and Shaun Parren-Rackley, with the former nailing a three-pointer to open the scoring.

Parren-Rackley gleefully converted a McGregor lob as well as profiting from a clever Wilfrid Santhe assist.

Santhe dribbled coast-to-coast to set up Matei Balteanu and then banked in a triple to give Wolves an 18-17 first quarter edge.

McGregor was again on target from distance but, worryingly, had to be helped off-court for treatment to a leg injury after a collision with a Derby defender.

Ian Vivero-Rodriguez stepped up with a quick six points, Austin Payne produced a steal and simple lay-up while Santhe and his backcourt partner Sergi Estany both connected from the outside, establishing a healthy 42-24 half-time advantage.

Shortly after the interval Parren-Rackley foul trouble forced him to take a seat on the bench but his replacement Tom Grayling made an immediate impact when spied wide-open by Payne.

Worcester’s twenty-point cushion entering the final period began to fray. While morale was boosted by McGregor re-entering the arena to supply side-line support, on-court proceedings were far from comfortable as Wolves players were repeatedly skittled to the floor by their physical opponents.

With four minutes remaining the lead had been slashed to single-figures at 63-54.

However, Santhe was able to make the most of space away from the close-to-the-basket exchanges to sink his fourth three-pointer and followed up by shrugging off inside challenges to score with a gentle floater and finally quell Derby’s resistance.

Head coach Dean Blake admitted it was a lot closer than it should have been and was slightly frustrated despite the victory.

“Derby made things a bit difficult for us towards the end,” admitted Coach Dean Blake.

“They forced presses on us and we weren’t doing basic things to break the press. We weren’t executing our strategy well enough to deal with the situation.

“Having said that, I’m pleased that we have again got the win.”

Wolves will complete a three-game road trip next Saturday 20 November (4pm) when they visit Sutton Coldfield College to take on Birmingham Mets.

A fortnight later, on Saturday 04 December (7pm), Wolves finally return to the University of Worcester Arena to meet Stoke-on-Trent Knights.