Johnson shoots down Eagles
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.
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