VALENTINO Yuel made it three goals in three games and Roy O'Donovan netted the 50th of his A-League career as the Newcastle Jets broke through for their first win of the season, beating Wellington 2-1 in Wollongong on Sunday.
The Jets have played better in the four games prior and finished with nothing.
Against Wellington they defended resolutely, absorbed pressure when required and scored two brilliant goals on the counter.
Yuel, who has been a breath of fresh air, opened the visitor's account in the eighth minute.
O'Donovan doubled the advantage in the 51st with his first of the campaign.
A frustrated Phoenix were almost out of ideas when gifted a lifeline with five minutes remaining. Jets substitute Blake Archbold brought down Cam Devlin just inside the box and captain Ulises Davila made no mistake.
Duncan had earlier kept the Jets lead intact with a series of spectacular saves in his best performance since returning to the club this season.
The win moved the Jets above Wellington and Melbourne Victory into 10th place.
"I'm relieved for the players and the club and the staff," interim coach Craig Deans said. "We have been working hard for 12 weeks now and we haven't had much reward for that work.Tonight was probably our worst performance of the season in terms of the football we played.
"We got into a bit of scrap and a tussle. I'm pleased to see we can win a game like that.
"We won a little bit ugly but we are much happier than we were against Brisbane when everyone said we played good football and didn't win the game."
Coach Craig Deans kept faith with the same XI that went down in consecutive games to Macarthur and Brisbane 2-1, despite them backing up for a third game in a week.
Phoenix brought former Jet Matthew Ridenton into midfield for the suspended Alex Rufer, and Josh Sotirio started up front alongside Israel import Tomer Hemed.
The Jets had an early scare when Hemed went over in the box but referee Alex King - and the VAR - ruled that Jets captain Nigel Boogaard was not at fault.
Two minutes later the visitors were in front after a swift and perfectly executed counterattack.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley collected a loose ball and found O'Donovan near halfway. The Irishman turned inside Luke DeVere and released Yuel. The in-form striker drove into the penalty area then brilliantly angled a low shot in off the left post.
"We have a bit of weapon in Val with his speed and we have some quality in midfield who can play a pass," Deans said. "At times we get left two-v-two at the top and it's an option for us. Tonight it worked for us and we could have had a couple more. Also tonight, we had the luck that we have been missing in the past three weeks. We had a couple of close calls - balls hitting posts - and Jack Duncan made three or four unbelievable saves."
Duncan has had a tough time of it in goals for the Jets, but he ensured they retained the lead in the 12th minute. DeVere powered a header from a Davila cross but Duncan stuck out a firm left hand to knock it clear.
Davila beat Duncan but not the right post two minutes later as the home team took control of the game despite being behind on the scoreboard.
The home side had won seven corners inside 30 minutes and David Ball and Devlin stung the hands of Duncan with crisp efforts.
In a reversal of previous weeks, the Jets were behind at half-time in most key statistics.
Wellington had a whopping 63 per cent of possession and led the shot count (8-5) and corner count (8-2), while Duncan was the far busier of the keepers.
The Jets continued to live dangerously and were lucky to stay in front two minutes after the break when Ball glanced a header which beat everything bar the post.
Then, in a repeat of the first half, the Jets doubled the lead in the 51st with another transition goal.
Steve Ugarkovic pounced on a loose pass near halfway and pierced the defence for O'Donovan to go one-on-one with Stefan Marinovic.
The striker did the rest, passing the ball around a rushing keeper for his 50th in the A-League.
The Phoenix continued to threaten. Ball, Sotirio, Davila and Hemed all had sights on goal but either shot wide or were thwarted by Duncan.
The Jets were content to sit back, absorb pressure and hit on the counter attack.
It nearly paid dividends again in the 71st minute but O'Donovan blazed his shot high.
Yuel had a golden chance to seal the win with 15 minutes remaining when played in by Kosta Petratos, but he over-hit his effort from the left edge of the penalty area.
Boogaard was denied a collector item when he produced a left foot bicycle kick which was tipped around the post by Marinovic.