Herbert: We were rusty

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert suggested 'first round syndrome' as the reason for his side's 3-2 loss to Newcastle in the opening round of the Hyundai A-League.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert suggested 'first round syndrome' as the reason for his side's 3-2 loss to Newcastle in the opening round of the Hyundai A-League.

Wellington started terribly, allowing Newcastle's Jason Hoffman to sneak in two goals inside the first 22 minutes. But the visitors took advantage of two defensive errors by the Jets to draw level at half-time via a set-piece header from defender Ben Sigmund and a well-struck shot from English import Chris Greenacre.

But the Phoenix was unable to maintain their intensity in the second half and the Jets stole a late winner via substitute striker Jason Naidovski six minutes from full-time.

"To be honest I think we would have been a bit lucky (to get a draw) but as the game progressed it looked like it might go that way," a despondent Herbert said after the match.

"But we didn't start well - two poor goals and away from home it is going to be difficult to come back from there."

"It was good to Chris score and that will get him out of the shadow of Shane Smeltz on his debut and I'm delighted for him but it is about winning football matches this year and I am very disappointed with that match."

Herbert agreed there were some encouraging things to be taken out of the match, particularly the performance of Leo Bertos, who troubled the Jets defence with his runs through midfield and helped set up both of Wellington's goals. But overall he said his side looked 'tentative'.

"I thought we were hesitant, right through the side and for whatever reason we took time to adjust," Herbert said.

"We looked good in the pre-season against Melbourne and the Central Coast which is probably the only benchmarks we have had, and we looked very solid so today is very disappointing."

"You can look at a few things but at the end of the day the score line says 3-2 and that is what we need to address we have spoken about how we are going to be tighter at the back this year and deal with things more efficiently but we were a bit tentative."

"Whether that is first match syndrome or not - I have seen with a few the sides this weekend - I don't know."