Baker, Johnson to behave: Sanderson - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Baker, Johnson to behave: Sanderson

By Greg Buckle 02/09/2010 06:45:48 PM Comments (0)

Provocative tagger Steven Baker will be a good boy on Friday night and so will Steve Johnson, according to Geelong assistant coach Brenton Sanderson.

Sanderson says he's expecting the St Kilda hard man and Geelong's Norm Smith Medallist forward to be on their best behaviour in their much-hyped return bout in the AFL qualifying final at the MCG.

"I don't think there'll be any fireworks like there was last time," Sanderson told AAP on Thursday.

"Both players would be aware there'll be a lot of TV cameras on them and a lot of people watching.

"They'll play the game in the right spirit."

Baker is back after serving a nine-match ban on charges of misconduct and striking after banging the broken hand of Johnson in St Kilda's four-goal win over the Cats in round 13.

Johnson served three weeks for striking Baker and this time the pair will be doubly keen to focus on the ball with a preliminary final spot on the line, Sanderson says.

"There's an enormous amount of interest in this match-up," Sanderson said.

"I'm sure the cameramen will be flashing to the Johnson-Baker match-up before the centre bounce.

"They're both professionals and they're both very proud men and I'm sure it's going to be a great contest.

"I know the media have built it up. Hopefully both guys go okay.

"Both of the players won't want to get into any strife.

"There was a lot of media surrounding that suspension last time.

"He (Baker) has had to go away and watch footy for half a season and understands now what's expected."

While the defending premiers are confident of another strong September showing with only Max Rooke (knee) and James Podsiadly (suspension) missing from their best side this week, the Saints are last-start winners against Geelong in round 13.

St Kilda's midfield brigade led by Lenny Hayes, Leigh Montagna and Nick Dal Santo will provide plenty of scoring opportunities for skipper Nick Riewoldt.

Sanderson says he's confident tall defender Harry Taylor can hold his own against Riewoldt, as Taylor did in last year's grand final victory.

"Poor old Harry, he gets really tough match-ups every week," Sanderson said.

"He relishes those challenges. He's had some good matches against Nick in the past.

"Nick's a superstar of the competition."

Sanderson said the battle of the small forwards would be "critical", especially in wet and slippery conditions.

"Both clubs have got exceptional forwards, with Stephen Milne and Adam Schneider and Andrew McQualter and Brett Peake (at St Kilda)," Sanderson said.

"We've also got Paul Chapman, Travis Varcoe, Mathew Stokes, Gary Ablett, who can cause a bit of havoc too.

"If it is wet the small forwards become critical to the match."

Brownlow Medallist Ablett's abilities were on show again last week against West Coast when the midfielder went forward after halftime and kicked four goals.

"He's probably one of the best small forwards in the competition and he's the dominant midfielder in the competition," Sanderson said.

"We'd love to have two of him but we've had success playing him and Paul Chapman in the midfield and pinch-hitting up forward."

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