Cross smashes influence of Lions' Black - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cross smashes influence of Lions' Black

By Roger Vaughan 12/09/2009 01:52:50 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs midfielder Daniel Cross was asked whether his vital job in Friday night's AFL semi-final was a tag or a run-with role.

"It was a thick Black line," he said.

Cross restricted the Lions' star midfielder Simon Black to just 14 disposals as the Bulldogs won by 51 points and booked a preliminary final next Friday night against St Kilda.

Liam Picken also quelled Justin Sherman's influence and they were vital negating roles for the 'Dogs.

Black, the 2002 Brownlow Medallist, is widely-respected in the league and he was a surprise omission from the 40-player squad for Monday night's All-Australian team.

"He's a marvel around stoppages - I knew that," Cross said.

"I was hoping to get out a bit on him, on the outside, try to work him as well instead of just following him around all day.

"But it was certainly a lockdown role, because we respect him so highly."

Cross and Black have had many duels during their careers and the Bulldog knew he was in for a hard day's night if he was to stop his opponent from dominating.

"I study my opponents a fair bit - he's probably a very left-side dominant players, so I tried to play on that side as much as possible," Cross said.

"He's their go-to guy around stoppages, I knew I had to do a lot of hard work around those areas.

"I knew I was going to be in for a hard-running day - you've got to prepare yourself physically and mentally to play on a guy like that.

"I really respect him highly as a player and as a bloke as well ... it was good to come away with the team points, for sure."

Adding further credit to his performance, Cross needed ankle surgery after the round-19 loss to West Coast.

Cross worked overtime to make sure he was back for the round-22 win over Collingwood.

"It felt 100 per cent tonight, I'm really happy with how it's come up," he said of the ankle.

"I heard mixed stories, whether the season was going to be over or whether I was going to be able to play on.

"I worked really hard in my rehab, to get back as soon as I could, and to get that game in before finals was a real bonus for me.

"It meant I could get a bit more run in my legs before the intensity stepped up into the finals."

St Kilda will start favourites next Friday, but Cross and his team-mates are grimly determined to pull off the upset and make the grand final.

"We've been here before, we know what it's about, we've got everything to lose - we want a grand final spot," he said.

"We're not here just to make up the numbers, we're going in with the mentality of bringing the intensity from the (start)."

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