Johnson out for opener
Steve Johnson reacts as Hayden Ballantyne stands nearby during the NAB cup game between Geelong and Fremantle on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
ANOTHER incident involving Fremantle agitator Hayden Ballantyne has come back to haunt Geelong.
Cats star Steve Johnson is set to miss the club's round-one blockbuster against Hawthorn after being charged with striking Ballantyne in Saturday night's NAB Cup clash at Patersons Stadium. The match review panel levelled a level-two striking offence (adding up to 125 demerit points) against Johnson on Monday for the incident that occurred in the second half of the Cats' loss to the Dockers. Johnson was seen to make contact to Ballantyne's chest with a swinging right arm that sent the Fremantle forward to the ground.
Due to his existing poor record - which included 80 carry-over points from a rough conduct charge involving Sydney's Dan Hannebery last season - Johnson is left with the option of accepting a one-match suspension with an early guilty plea.
It was round one last year that sparks flew between Ballantyne and several Geelong players. The Docker was suspended for two weeks for hitting Cats forward Paul Chapman behind play.
Later in the game, Cats champion Matthew Scarlett punched Ballantyne in the jaw, resulting in a three-match suspension to the now-retired defender.
Under a change to the tribunal system, Johnson will have to serve the ban in the home-and-away season, leaving the Cats without their star playmaker as they attempt to continue their incredible winning streak against the Hawks on April 1.