John­son shoots down Ea­gles

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - ROB FORSAITH

STEVE John­son has wound the clock back in a 67-point win over the West Coast Ea­gles, boot­ing six goals as the Greater Western Syd­ney Gi­ants stormed into an AFL pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal.

GWS clin­i­cally ended the Ea­gles’ sea­son — and ca­reers of Sam Mitchell, Matt Prid­dis and Drew Petrie — by pre­vail­ing 19.11 (125) to 9.4 (58).

Re­called vet­eran John­son will hope his dodgy knee holds up ahead of the Gi­ants’ pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal against Rich­mond at the MCG on Satur­day.

The 34-year-old kicked four goals in the third term of the Spot­less Sta­dium semi-fi­nal.

“It was the knock to the back of my head that knocked some tal­ent back into me,” John­son, sport­ing a ban­daged head, quipped to Chan­nel Seven.

“I was al­ways con­fi­dent I could play a role even though I wasn’t se­lected last week.

“It’s not go­ing to be this easy next week.”

The heat was on GWS af­ter last week’s em­bar­rass­ing loss to Ade­laide but Leon Cameron’s side re­sponded ruth­lessly.

The hosts opened up a 37point lead early in the se­cond quar­ter and never looked back.

The Gi­ants re­gained their mojo, heap­ing pres­sure on the be­sieged Ea­gles while mov­ing the ball with a po­tent mix of pre­ci­sion and pace.

Dy­lan Shiel, Nathan Wil­son, Lachie Whit­field and Toby Greene were among the Gi­ants’ best, hav­ing all been well be­low their best against the Crows.

Shiel booted the game’s open­ing goal, which came af­ter a nervy nine min­utes, and had plenty of the ball.

Greene copped a painful blow to the head from Jeremy McGovern but man­aged to kick three goals.

Whit­field re­cov­ered from a jaw-rat­tling cash with Petrie on the cusp of half-time to fin­ish with 28 dis­pos­als.

Vet­eran de­fend­ers Heath Shaw and Phil Davis also spear­headed a no­table lift in ag­gres­sion from the Gi­ants.

Aside from a cou­ple of wasted chances in front of goal and a small crowd of 14,865, the only ma­jor con­cern for GWS was Nick Haynes’ in­jury scare in the third term.

Haynes con­tin­ued to play af­ter hurt­ing his knee, sug­gest­ing he is a likely starter against Rich­mond.

The re­sult means the top­four sides have all pro­gressed to the penul­ti­mate week of the sea­son.

Pic­ture: GETTY

Steve John­son of the Gi­ants cel­e­brates kick­ing a goal dur­ing the AFL first semi fi­nal match against the West Coast Ea­gles at Spot­less Sta­dium last night

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