Jonno, Western Bulldogs bouncing back - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Jonno, Western Bulldogs bouncing back

By Sam Lienert 12/09/2010 06:31:41 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs captain Brad Johnson says his fitness and the team's confidence have both bounced back approaching their AFL preliminary final clash with St Kilda.

The Bulldogs received a much-needed tonic on both fronts in Saturday night's fighting semi-final victory over Sydney, when they wiped off a 30-point deficit to win by five points.

Johnson, who announced his impending retirement in the lead-up to the match, was far more influential than in the previous weekend's qualifying final loss to Collingwood.

Having struggled with an Achilles injury throughout the year, Johnson entered what was potentially the final match of his 363-game career facing criticism that his form and fitness did not warrant selection.

But, after enduring what had been a poor month personally and for the team, he said his body was finally able to respond the way he wanted.

"I felt pretty good during the game, it was the best I've felt for three or four weeks," Johnson told the Seven Network's AFL Gameday on Sunday.

"I was able to run and probably covered more ground than what I have in a long time.

"So it was pleasing and I've pulled up well on the back of it, so hopefully things keep rolling on."

Similarly, he expected the Bulldogs to enter this Saturday night's clash with the Saints in a much more positive frame of mind than in recent weeks, despite being rank underdogs.

"That's probably a reflection of where things have been for the last month of footy," Johnson said of their outsider status.

"But we get a win, we move into a prelim and our confidence will be high and we'll take them on."

Johnson acknowledged the Dogs needed further improvement, saying they could not give up a 30-point lead against the Saints, then reel them in.

Their chances of an upset could hinge on match review panel and medical assessments early this week.

Gutsy midfielder Daniel Cross was outstanding against the Swans, but will be nervously awaiting the panel's ruling on Monday over a second quarter bump on Jude Bolton.

Bolton was crouched towards the ball when Cross made high contact.

In the Bulldog's defence, Sydney's Kieren Jack was also involved in the three-way collision, with replays showing Bolton seeming to cannon off Jack and into Cross.

A Cross suspension would be a near death-blow to the Dogs' chances, given they are already missing another of their best midfielders, Adam Cooney, through injury.

But they hope reliable defender Dale Morris will make an earlier-than-expected return from a back injury.

Originally expected to miss the rest of the season, Morris has missed three games, but is now rated a good chance to play against St Kilda.

That would be an enormous boost, given he could take on Saints' captain Nick Riewoldt, but also has the pace to run with a dangerous small forward, such as Stephen Milne.

Johnson predicted a similar tense, low-scoring struggle to the two clubs' most recent encounter, at Etihad Stadium in round six, when they kicked 13 goals between them, the Saints kicking the last three for a three-point win.

"We had a great prelim against them last year, I'm sure it will be the same sort of battle again," he said.

With the Dogs knocked out in preliminary finals in the past two seasons, Johnson said they needed to seize this chance.

"The boys understand that the opportunities don't come around that often," he said.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news