AN experimental defensive line has leaked three goals in atrocious conditions at Wanderers Oval to give the Newcastle Jets a losing finish to an otherwise impressive National Youth League season.
Brisbane's James Meyer scored a hat-trick as Newcastle lost 3-1 in torrential rain on Saturday in the 18th and final round of the campaign.
The Jets were assured of third place heading into the match and Brisbane needed a result to secure fourth.
Jets A-League coach Gary van Egmond used the match as a chance to give top squad members Mitch Cooper, James Virgili, Craig Goodwin, Scott Neville, Josh Mitchell and James Brown a run ahead of tough away games against Wellington and Melbourne in the next week.
Cooper came off at half-time after copping a knock on his knee but it was thought to be only a minor injury.
Brown and Goodwin came off after 60 minutes.
Mitch Oxborrow was the main injury concern, aggravating a hamstring problem and coming off with 10 minutes remaining to leave Newcastle a player short.
Van Egmond experimented with a three-man back-line in the game instead of the standard four and Meyer took advantage.
He scored before Kale Bradbery equalised midway through the first half.
Meyer responded to make it 2-1 to the visitors at half-time.
He completed his treble in the 65th minute.
Youth coach Clayton Zane said the game, played in water-logged conditions, was not an ideal way to finish the season but believed Brisbane deserved the win.
‘‘It was hard to be tidy in those conditions and we struggled to put together three or four passes before it broke down,’’ Zane said.
‘‘It was a bit like that for Brisbane in the first half too, but after we made the changes they had more quality than us and really won the game in the second half and played well.’’
The third-place finish is Newcastle’s best in the NYL and Zane said it was a success for the entire club.
‘‘It has been a really positive year for the youth team and also for the first team, with pushing people on,’’ Zane said.
‘‘[Andrew] Hoole has been a perfect example of how the youth team serves its purpose and Mitch Cooper has got himself into the mix as well through playing in the youth side.’’
The match was the last for captain and defender Mason Campbell, who will return to Northern NSW State League club Hamilton Olympic.
The youth side will go on a month-long break before starting preparations for the NNSW State League season, which kicks off the first weekend in April.