Bulldog Johnson doggedly chases title - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldog Johnson doggedly chases title

By Roger Vaughan 19/09/2009 01:08:37 PM Comments (0)

The grand final would have been Brad Johnson's 350th AFL match.

Instead, the Western Bulldogs captain must reflect on another lost opportunity after Friday night's agonising preliminary final loss to St Kilda.

Johnson, 33, is in a group of five 30-plus Bulldogs players - the others are Jason Akermanis, Ben Hudson, Nathan Eagleton and Scott Welsh - who will no doubt assess their futures in the next few days.

While Johnson is yet to confirm he will continue, his post-match comments strongly suggested he will reach that 350 milestone as he chases a much more important milestone - the premiership.

"I haven't thought about any of that stuff at the moment, I will sit down with the club over the break," he said.

"But I'm super-determined, we've all got that dream within this footy club to achieve the ultimate and we won't stop until we get it."

Johnson and his team-mates spent several minutes in the back of their changerooms after the seven-point loss to the Saints, away from fans and the media.

He said they were "shell-shocked", but also spoke glowingly of their performance.

After failing to make the most of their chances in the first term, it looked as though the Bulldogs would lose touch early in the third term.

A dubious free kick to Nick Riewoldt sparked a three-goal Saints surge that threatened to blow the game open.

Instead, the 'Dogs kept their composure magnificently and Johnson's last-quarter goal put them back in front.

But it was their only goal of the final quarter as they again had the ball in attack for an extended period without enough reward.

"The guys held their nerve all night and that was really positive, we knew at the start of the third quarter they'd come out and try to tie the game up and win it," Johnson said.

"The second half of that third quarter, we fought back as hard as we could, we managed to hit the front until late."

Many people will praise the Bulldogs for their bravery, but few will now give them much chance of improving on two preliminary final berths in two seasons.

The Bulldogs captain sees things differently.

"We're better this year than what we were last year and we need to keep striving, because someone will jump up next year," he said.

He was inevitably asked about whether they need to recruit a tall forward, especially given the mighty performance of Saints captain Nick Riewoldt at the other end of the ground.

But Johnson's answer reflected the mood of a man nursing a raw emotional wound, rather than a veteran willing to analyse the team's strengths and weaknesses.

"It could have gone either way tonight - Nick has had a fantastic year and he's certainly stood tall a few times (on Friday night)," he said.

"Our guys did a fairly good job, all our defenders worked extremely hard together to keep the ball off them.

"We'll just keep working as we do and we'll keep trying to create havoc for the opposition in the structure we've got."

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