Crowley waiting for cleared Johnson
Ryan Crowley and Steve Johnson. Pic: AFL Media

Geelong star Steve Johnson is clear for a return bout with feisty Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley in Saturday night's grudge match at Simonds Stadium after beating a misconduct suspension at the AFL Tribunal last night.

Johnson, who risked a two-game ban, thanked North Melbourne's Scott Thompson for telling the tribunal he entered last Saturday night's game with cracked ribs.

In a rare case of the victim appearing at the tribunal, Thompson revealed he wore a protective brace and Johnson's knee struck him in the damaged area, causing him to experience more pain than normal.

Johnson was banned for one match for headbutting Crowley when Geelong came to Perth in round nine.

If Dockers coach Ross Lyon opts to send Crowley to Johnson again, the triple premiership star faces another evening under the blowtorch.

He hasn't handled Crowley well in the past.

The Docker kept him to seven disposals after quarter time in last year's qualifying final and Johnson was ineffectual in Fremantle's 32-point win at Patersons Stadium earlier this year.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said it was one of their biggest games of the year but said they weren't seeking retribution for the Dockers knocking them out of the finals in 2012 and ruining their September run in Geelong last year.

However, the players were in no doubt what the game meant.

After beating the Roos on Saturday, Mathew Stokes said: "They (Fremantle) pulled our pants down at home in the final last year, which we were filthy about, so it won't be forgotten."

And speedster Steven Motlop admitted Fremantle were the Cats' "bogey side" and they were still "pretty dirty we lost to them in the finals". Stokes said Geelong "most definitely" owed the Dockers.

"It was the first thing that I spoke with the boys about after the (Kangaroos) game," Stokes said on SEN radio.

"This will be a massive game for that (double chance) because it's like an eight-point game. We do owe them one at home."

At last night's tribunal hearing, Johnson said he did not know Thompson was injured.

"We found out later but I'm glad he came in. It helped my case. No doubt. Thank you," Johnson said.

The Cats also called WA umpire Brett Rosebury, who was officiating and saw the incident from 20m away without paying a free kick.

The tribunal panel confirmed what many fans already knew - the contact wasn't hard enough to warrant a report. Johnson had been suspended for six matches in the previous two years and had 75 demerit points left on his record.

Scott said not fighting minor charges had left Johnson facing unfair suspensions.

"There's no question that he faces a penalty based on previous actions that were innocuous at best," Scott said.

"Our decisions not to challenge at the time have contributed to the position that he is in now."

Scott described the report as a "travesty of justice" after other players were cleared when their opponents were injured.

He said he had no problem with Johnson's behaviour against the Kangaroos.

The West Australian

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