The Giants went down to their North West rivals after star forward Willie Clayton and coach Danny Byrne were ejected from the game before half-time.

The pair were hit with double technical fouls after disputing a call by one of the officials, meaning they had to leave the playing arena midway through the second period.

Cheshire had a four-point lead at the time and the remainder of the period remained relatively even with the visitors taking a 57-51 lead into the half-time break.

By that time the Giants had lost veteran guard James Jones with an ankle injury that required hospital assessment.

With Callum Jones already carrying a knock, they faced a testing second-half challenge – and without key rebounder Clayton, the Nix had the better of the second half and they gradually built their advantage to win.

The younger Jones led a game Giants fight with 23 points and some excellent three-point shooting from Vlatko Granic (5/6, 16 points) kept them in touch.

But they lost the rebounding battle 40-24 and Momcilo Latinovic was deadly from deep for the visitors with 6/8 from beyond the arc for a game-high 26.

Ingus Bankevics and Mike McCall Jnr had 16 apiece and Torry Butler 14. James Jones had nine with 3/3 three-point shooting before his exit and Clayton eight before his.

The result means the three-game head-to-head battle between the teams stands at 1-1 and the Nix leapfrog the Giants into sixth place, leaving Byrne’s men (8-8) in the final play-off spot.