THE Newcastle Jets have moved into fifth place on the Hyundai A-League ladder with a sparkling 3-0 win over the Melbourne Heart at Hunter Stadium on Saturday evening.
In-form striker Jeremy Brockie gave the Jets the lead midway through the first half with his ninth goal of the season. Ryan Griffiths added a second just after half-time before English import Michael Bridges completed the rout with his first goal since making a comeback from retirement in the 76th minute.
The win lifts the Jets above Heart into fifth place on the table on 28 points, while the Melbourne side are clinging to sixth on 27 points after collecting just three points from their past eight games.
The match got underway in stormy conditions and it was the visitors who seemed to control play the better, with Rutger Worm and Wayne Srhoj winning the midfield battle, although they were unable to create any clear cut chances.
The home side weathered the early attacks, however, and took the lead midway through the first half when Tarek Elrich streaked down the left wing before jinking inside Heart defender Michael Marrone and firing a dangerous cross into the box where Brockie sent a glancing header into the corner of the net.
The hosts almost doubled their advantage a few moments later when Jacob Pepper laid off a nice ball for Francis Jeffers who sent his shot inches wide of the near post.
The Jets continued to create the best opportunities and a well-worked move in the 27th minute saw Tarek Elrich fire a sharp right-footed chance from inside the box that Clint Bolton dived full-length to push around the post.
Bolton was again called into action when he produced another great diving save to deny a Byun free-kick from 25 metres out in the 35th minute.
The Heart had their best chance of the half just a few minutes before the break when Newcastle only half-cleared the ball from the area and it fell to veteran Paul Reid whose low shot was saved by Kennedy as the Jets went to the half-time break leading 1-0.
Newcastle picked up where they left off after the re-start, doubling their lead just two minutes into the second half when Byun fired a curling free-kick into the box and Griffiths leapt high to flick home a header just inside the far post.
From that point on the Jets controlled play, keeping possession and absorbing any attack from the Heart.
Jets coach Gary van Egmond replaced Jeffers for fellow countryman Bridges just after the hour mark and the former England Under 21 international claimed his first goal since making his comeback when he tapped home a piercing through-ball from Ruben Zadkovich near the back post in the 76th minute.
The home side had all the momentum and almost added a fourth. Elrich shot wide after a great run into the box, before a Bridges long-rang thunderbolt in the 85th minute had Bolton stretching as he tipped the ball over the bar.
To their credit the Heart kept pressing forward and Alex Terra had their best chance of the afternoon with a shot on the turn inside the box but it was well-saved by Kennedy as Newcastle claimed their third win in a row to solidify their place in the top six.