Jets on the rise

When Branko Culina was sacked four days before the start of the Hyundai A-League season, things looked bleak for Newcastle.

When Branko Culina was sacked four days before the start of the Hyundai A-League season, things looked bleak for Newcastle.

Just two weeks prior to the manager's sacking, his son Jason - recruited as the club's marquee player - had been ruled out for the season with a knee injury.

Newcastle were in disarray but the club moved quickly to re-hire former coach Gary van Egmond, who led the Jets to the 2007 title.

Van Egmond's impact on the team has been noticeable and good form at home in the early stages of the season kept them in contention for a finals berth.

Newcastle's away form was poor though and they went nine matches without a win on the road in the 2011-2012 season.

That record was broken when Jobe Wheelhouse bagged the winner in a 1-0 triumph at Brisbane in January and the victory has given the Jets confidence on their travels.

They have now won three of their last four away trips and that form, in conjunction with their impressive home record, sees the club sitting sixth on the A-League table with just two matches remaining in the regular season.

Newcastle face a tricky test on Saturday when the second-placed Roar travel to Ausgrid Stadium, but a win could help them book a spot in the post-season.

The Jets are sixth on the table, level on points with Melbourne Heart who are one place above them.

Sydney FC - who Newcastle travel to in the last match of the season - are seventh, just a point behind the two teams above them.

It means a fascinating two weeks are ahead as the three teams fight it out for two places in the finals.

If the Jets make the top six, do not rule them out of causing an upset or two.

In Jeremy Brockie and Ryan Griffiths (nine goals each), Newcastle have forwards capable of causing the opposition problems while the likes of Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Wheelhouse have enjoyed impressive seasons.

They have lost just one of their last eight and will fancy their chances against the Roar on Saturday.

Brisbane are undefeated in their last six away matches though, and without an Asian Champions League game to play mid-week, they will be fresher than they were against Adelaide United last weekend.

The Roar sit second, just two points behind a stuttering Central Coast Mariners, which will give them added motivation to perform well.

All signs point to an exciting encounter between the two sides, with Newcastle having the potential to sew up a finals spot if they win and other results go their way.