Jets not looking for another brawl

SWISS defender Dominik Ritter had never seen anything like it.

Ritter was on the bench when the pre-season ‘‘friendly’’ between the Jets and Wellington Phoenix at Weston erupted into an all-in brawl.

The two sides square off at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon in their first meeting since the night of spite in August.

‘‘I have never seen that before in football,’’ the 23-year-old left back said of the ugly incident.

‘‘It was some kind of situation, out of order.

‘‘But I think this week will be a normal game.

‘‘You should forget it and keep going.’’

A challenge midway through the first half involving Jets centre back Tiago and Phoenix’s Manny Muscat sparked wild scenes in the not-so-friendly game, which the Jets won 3-1.

Both benches were cleared, several fracas broke out and it took rookie referee Tim McGilchrist five minutes to restore order.

Tiago and Phoenix pair Muscat and Ben Sigmund, the third man in, were sent off.

Phoenix were later reduced to eight men when captain Andrew Durante lashed out at Scott Neville with his boot and was given his marching orders.

Tiago and Muscat received four-game suspensions, Sigmund was outed for three and Durante two.

The sentences were served in the pre-season.

There had been plenty of niggles before the match erupted, but Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti was adamant there was no lingering bad blood.

‘‘That is forgotten,’’ Birighitti said of the dust-up.

‘‘We just have to focus on the weekend. We know we have a job to do and the boys are confident we can get three points.

‘‘They are a team who loves to battle. They are a very physical side and will probably try and get into us at the start of the game.

‘‘We just have to focus on our own game, do our own thing and do what [coach] Gary [van Egmond] sets out before the game.’’

Tiago, the man at the centre of the trouble at Weston, is sitting on four yellow cards – if he gets another, he faces automatic suspension.

The Brazilian was one of Newcastle’s best, especially late in the game, in the 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday.

Although a clean sheet still eludes the Jets, it was a much improved defensive effort.

‘‘Defensively we are getting better with every game,’’ Birighitti said.

“Wellington are always a tough team to play against.

‘‘We found that out in the pre-season and they’ve got some good players who have been together for a while.

“It’s going to be hard to break them down, but I’m sure we can go out on the weekend and get three points.’’

Ritter returned from a quad strain against Western Sydney and, although still ‘‘a bit sore’’, was certain he would be fine for Sunday.

‘‘I got through the 90 minutes on the weekend,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel confident and am looking forward to the game.’’

Meanwhile, midfielder Ben Kantarovski had surgery in Sydney yesterday to repair a torn meniscus.

The 20-year-old injured his right knee – the same one he had surgically reconstructed in 2010 – at training a fortnight ago and faces at least a month on the sideline.

NOT SO FRIENDLY: Newcastle and Wellington mix it up at Weston in August. Picture: Peter Stoop

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