Tajh Green has leapt to the defence of team-mate Larry Austin Jr after the incensed US guard was thrown out of Friday’s ill-tempered affair against Bristol Flyers.

Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles’s former Cheshire Phoenix star picked up two technical fouls within the space of a minute after taking the officials to task over a brutal fourth quarter collision.

Austin Jr’s ejection heaped the pressure on the short-handed hosts with head coach Marc Steutel admitting an undisciplined final quarter played into Bristol’s hands.

But Green — who has faced the same fate already this season — sympathised with his irate colleague after witnessing first hand a nasty clash with Flyers’ Leslee Smith.

“It was tough on Larry,” said Newcastle’s star performer — on a night when there were few positives for the men in black.

“In my view it shows his passion for basketball and for this club. I had a moment like that too.

“Sometimes we can be over passionate as players when it might be better to calm down.

“We tried to calm Larry down but there was only so much we could do. I understood his case because he could have got hurt.

“He fell directly onto his tailbone and, to me, it was a dangerous play. Some players wouldn’t react but Larry’s just not one of those guys.

“I like his passion for the game but I know people will say there’s a point where you need to calm down.”

Austin Jr was sent to the locker room with the Eagles trailing 80-67 following a disastrous start to the final quarter.

His dismissal proved to be the final nail in the coffin for a below-par Newcastle who lost the final period 26-10 on their way to a second successive homecourt defeat.

Bristol saw out a fractious affair down the stretch to claim an 89-71 win and a disappointed Green added: “We just didn’t play Eagles ball in the final quarter.

“We needed to out-rebound them. Offensive rebounds were the main focus of the game and we didn’t do our job.

“Flyers started off the game with four or five offensive boards and by half-time they had 15 points off second chance shots. If we’d have cut down on that then we’d have been fine.

“Some possessions we were just watching the basketball, rather than hitting the man and boxing out.

“After December there can be no more losses. Come the New Year we can’t afford to lose any more games.”

Steutel cut a frustrated figure as he poured over the post-match stat sheet in the wake of another chastening homecourt loss.

And the Great Britain boss pulled no punches as he pointed to a lack of discipline and an unrecognisable capitulation down the stretch.

“I just don’t know who that was in the fourth quarter,” said Steutel. “I don’t know what that was from the team and it wasn’t what we’ve been trying to build.

“I was exceptionally disappointed and frustrated with our group during the last 10 minutes.”

Austin Jr’s premature exit clearly vexed Newcastle’s boss and he added: “At times I’m vocal with the refs and that’s part of my job.

“That doesn’t allow for players to step over the line and we’ve spoken about that, looked at that and tried to break it down.

“That being said I thought there was an incredible inconsistency in the officiating — both teams were probably looking at that. But we’ve got to be better and not concede 26 points in the fourth quarter.

“I’m disappointed that when the game was still alive — and anything can happen in basketball — our lack of discipline essentially handed Flyers the win. In my view that lack of discipline took away any chance of us winning the game.”

Once again Steutel was without wing Scott Spencer and centre Will Neighbour — on a night when the Eagles sorely missed another big body in the paint.

Both players will be out of action until the New Year with an expected return towards the end of January.

“Scott had surgery on his back and is already recovering so he’ll be back with us within the next five to six weeks,” explained Steutel.

“Will is going to have minor surgery on his knee in nine days and we’d also expect that one to be a six-week recovery period.”