Johnson smiling after Bulldogs pip Crows - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johnson smiling after Bulldogs pip Crows

By Adam Cooper 23/03/2008 06:24:49 PM Comments (0)

The trademark grin was there, but it took the entire duration of an AFL game for it to spread across Brad Johnson's face.

Johnson earned the Western Bulldogs a modern-day fairytale by booting five goals in his 300th game to pip Adelaide by three points in the round one game at Telstra Dome.

The Bulldogs skipper was goal-less at halftime after the Crows stormed away in the second term, but booted his side's last three goals - all in the final four minutes - in the 19.12 (126) to 18.15 (123) win.

In a remarkable finish, Adelaide's Nathan Bock had the chance to win the game with the last kick, but his shot from 40 metres close to the boundary missed, and then the final siren sounded.

In an exhilarating game, in which 24 goals were booted in the second half alone, new Bulldogs spearhead Scott Welsh booted four goals against his old side and Adelaide's Brett Burton bagged five in an electric performance.

Johnson, famed equally for a smile as wide as a split watermelon on top of his all-round talent, typified the Bulldogs' ability to lift from a dismal second quarter.

He booted two goals in the third and set up Daniel Giansiracusa for a cheeky volley, and then fired when the game was at its hottest.

He snagged a goal off hands to bring his side within two points, put his side in front with a set shot a minute later and then kicked the eventual winner when the ball fell his way again, with about 80 seconds left.

Adelaide's Scott Stevens countered with a goal to get the Crows within a kick, but Bock's miss meant more pain at Telstra Dome, after the narrow defeat to Hawthorn in last year's elimination final.

Both coaches agreed either side could have won, and Johnson admitted he was lucky his opponent Nathan Bassett left him alone by flying for a spoil.

"I just worked back and it fell my way off the contest, so just lucky," Johnson said.

But he admitted the win did not make up for the heartache Adelaide dealt him in preliminary final defeats in 1997-98.

"Yeah, we've had some great games against the Crows, but they've won the ones that really count, at prelim time, so you really can't compare," he said.

"I just wanted to get the win and it turned out to be one of the better games I've ever played in."

The Bulldogs began well and led by 20 points early in the second quarter, but Adelaide's tackling and Bulldog turnovers combined to put the visitors up by five at half-time.

The second half went largely goal for goal, but Scott West and Jason Akermanis lifted to help Adam Cooney and Nathan Eagleton hurt Adelaide across the midfield.

The Crows stayed loyal with their new onball brigade, as Brent Reilly and Jason Porplyzia did well while Simon Goodwin and Tyson Edwards largely stayed forward.

Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade was rapt to post a big score against one of the league's tightest defences, but was frustrated by bad skill errors in the second term.

"Not to take anything away from them (Adelaide), but I reckon our skill error at stages was deplorable and probably cost us six or seven goals," he said.

Adelaide's Neil Craig said it was too simplistic to nominate Bock's wayward shot as the defining moment, as Stevens also missed badly in the final term.

"Some of the shots we missed last year were a lot worse than we saw today and that's not trying to downplay it and not accept responsibility," he said.

"But they're the ones you remember and we'll keep spending more time on it so we can push forward."

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