Jets' A-League friendly erupts in brawl

WELLINGTON Phoenix had three players sent off and the Jets one after an  A-League "friendly" erupted into an all-in brawl which cleared both benches at Weston.

Phoenix pair Manny Muscat and Ben Sigmund and Jets Brazilian defender Tiago were given red cards after a fight broke out in front of the Jets dugout in 25th minute. Players and support staff from both teams converged. Punches were thrown, players were tackled to the ground and others had to be restrained by teammates. It took rookie referee Tim McGilchrist five minutes to restore order.

Both coaches were summoned on to the field as support staff continued to exchange barbs.

The send off did little to tame tempers and Phoenix were reduced to eight men in the 63rd minute when captain Andrew Durante lashed out at Jets midfielder James Brown who was on the ground.

Tonight's ugly incident came less than a week after Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers supporters clashed on the hill at a trial match in Campbelltown in which a young boy was injured.

Football Federation Australia sanctioned the match, which the Jets won 3-1 in front of a crowd of 1962.

Red cards carry an automatic two-game suspension but with FFA certain to investigate the matter, further sanctions are possible.

Wellington fly out to India tomorrow (Sunday) morning where they will play four games.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert refused to speak to the media after the match.

Jets coach Gary van Egmond attributed the incident to players competing hard for spots.

"You are not making excuses, but that is the eagerness of the players," he said.

"They have players looking to gain a contract and fighting for positions in the squad.

"We are in the same boat. We have a number of players wanting to get into the first 11.

"It was a bit difficult for the referee as well. He is an inexperienced referee and it was a difficult game for him to officiate first off.

"All in all, it was not what you want to see but we will learn from that."

Van Egmond said he hoped the matter didn't go any further than the red cards which were issued.

"Being a sanctioned game it makes it a little more difficult," he said.

"You obviously don't condone it. You have to think that all are the players are in prep for the A-League season and need games."

Apart from the four red cards, McGilchrist, who was last week promoted to the A-League referees panel, issued six yellow cards.

Sigmund lit the fuse of an explosive encounter when he hooked his leg around a runaway James in the 10th minute and was cautioned.

Muscat and Paul Ifil were involved in couple of niggling incidents before the game exploded.

Tiago and Muscat collided battling for a 50-50 ball. Muscat took umbrage at the challenge and jumped on top of the Brazilian. Sigmund was the third man in, sparking wild scenes.

Phoenix, who drove up from Sydney for the game, were up 1-0 at they point after Alex Smith got on the end of Ifil cross.

Craig Goodwin put the Jets back on level terms in the 34th minute before producing a wonder strike to give them the lead seven minutes into the second half.

Marko Jesic sealed the win 10 minutes from full-time.

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