The West

Cats to make call on Stevie J
Geelong forward Steve Johnson. Picture: AFL Media.

UPDATE: Geelong will be without star playmaker Steve Johnson for this Saturday's elimination final against Fremantle after the club accepted a one-match ban for rough conduct.

While Cats forward Paul Chapman was cleared to play yesterday after being given a reprimand for striking Sydney's Ben McGlynn, Johnson's poor tribunal record meant his suspension for reckless contact against Dan Hannebery will stand even with an early plea.

The Cats today decided not to challenge the suspension. Had they challenged and lost, Johnson's sanction would have increased to two weeks.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said earlier yesterday he would be surprised if Johnson was cited. He also described Fremantle coach Ross Lyon's comments on Saturday night in relation to possible match review ramifications for Chapman and Johnson as "interesting".

He said they were not comments he would have made about opposition players.

The news came as Scott hailed the clash with the Dockers as the start of a great rivalry rather than just another spiteful stand-off between the two clubs.

Fremantle are likely to include at least 15 players who represented the club in their last final, a 69-point semifinal loss to the Cats in 2010.

The Dockers, however, won a bitter encounter in round one this season by just four points at Patersons Stadium.

There has been a building intensity between the two teams since a stray elbow from former Fremantle hard man Dean Solomon left then Geelong captain Cameron Ling with a broken jaw in 2008. Ryan Crowley's tight tagging against former Cats star Gary Ablett then built on the bad blood.

Geelong veteran Matthew Scarlett was also suspended in round one this season for striking Fremantle antagonist Hayden Ballantyne, who was banned for a behind-the-play hit on Chapman in the same match.

Scott admitted his team's discipline, which he said failed in round one, would need to be better. But he said he saw new scope in the on-field rivalry between the two clubs, having blooded 10 players this season and with Fremantle relearning their craft under Lyon.

Scott believed the Dockers would be "scary" next year. "The rivalry is in its infancy at best," Scott said.

"Freo was an up-and-coming team and certainly never considered their team to be on a par with the Hawthorns and Collingwoods and Carlton … but I think with some justification they can say they are now.

"I'm pretty confident Freo will be a good side for a number of years and we're hoping that we can stay up there as well."

Scott, who was an assistant coach at Fremantle for three years before leading the Cats to last season's flag, said he had noted changes in Dockers players under Lyon where the team had become more structured. While he claimed his team was peaking for the finals, he was wary of a tense defensive test against a side he claimed was "the form team in the competition".

The West Australian

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