Preview: Newcastle Jets v Brisbane Roar

There should be very little between these two sides, especially with so much at stake.

Date: Friday, February 22, 2013 Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle

Head-to-head: Played: 24 - Wins: Jets 9, Roar 9, Drawn: 6

Previous encounter: Jets 1-0 Roar, January 12, 2013

Form: Past five matches: Jets: WLDDD Roar: WLDWL

The Game: This looms as a pivotal weekend - and fixture in the finals race with the sixth-placed Newcastle taking on the seventh-placed Roar, separated by just two points. While both sides have struggled for consistency for the majority of the season, they do head into this clash on the back of crucial 2-0 wins.

The Jets saw off fellow top-six hopefuls Melbourne Heart last Friday while goals to Steven Lustica and Besart Berisha ensured Brisbane got the job one at home to Wellington. It should mean that both sets of players come into this contest with renewed confidence and as a result neither coach is likely to tinker too much with their sides. The club's have met twice already this season, with the home side winning 1-0 on both occasions, which augurs well for the Jets.

The big issue: Jets - While Newcastle finished with a victory at Hunter Stadium in the last meeting between the two sides, it's been slim pickings for the Jets on their home turf against the Roar. The visitors have lost just twice in 13 encounters in the Hunter, including seven wins. It's a statistic the Jets must overcome if they are to come away with a victory here and give themselves some breathing space in the race for the top six.

Roar - Fatigue will be the major concern for Brisbane coach Mike Mulvey. This will be the Roar's fourth game in 12 days spanning trips from Sydney, to Thailand, back home to Brisbane and down to Newcastle. But with victory paramount in this clash, the newly appointed full-time Roar coach can ill-afford to rest any of his key men in this one.

The game breaker: Ryan Griffiths - Even as the Jets have had up-and-down periods this season, Griffiths' form has stayed fairly consistent. The 31-year-old always manages to get into dangerous goalscoring positions and his match-sealer against the Heart last weekend was his eighth of the campaign. Griffiths also enjoys playing in front of his home fans, scoring four times in his past three games at Hunter Stadium.

Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 Brisbane There should be very little between these two sides, especially with so much at stake. It will be hard-fought, willing and extremely tense. While Brisbane have a strong record in Newcastle and are coming off a crucial win, they haven't been overly convincing. While the Jets have only won one of their past five matches, they look a far stronger proposition, especially in defence, and should give their finals hopes a major boost with a win here.