North Melbourne’s Scott Thompson has given evidence he took a broken rib into last week’s game against Geelong, helping Cats’ star Steve Johnson beat a charge of kneeing.
Johnson had been offered a one-match ban by the AFL’s match review panel but chose to contest the charge on Tuesday night and risked a two-game suspension.
After a one-hour hearing, the tribunal’s three-man jury deliberated for 10 minutes before ruling the Norm Smith Medallist had applied insufficient force to Thompson’s ribs to constitute a reportable offence.
Johnson said as he left AFL House that he was a relieved man.
“The correct decision was made and I’m really looking forward to an important game this week,” Johnson said.
His third-placed Cats host fourth-placed Fremantle in a huge round-20 clash in Geelong on Saturday night.
The three-time All-Australian Johnson admitted he had yelled at Thompson and accused him of faking pain when the incident occurred during the first quarter of Saturday night’s game at Etihad Stadium.
“We found out later (about the injury). I’m glad that he came in and it helped my case, no doubt,” Johnson told reporters.
Thompson was called to give evidence by player advocate Peter Murdoch and revealed he had suffered a cracked rib the previous week and wore a protective guard for the match against Geelong.
Johnson and the North fullback had tangled and Johnson said he tried to pull away from Thompson’s hold of his jumper.
“I then put my knee down in another way of trying to leverage myself away to get away from him,” Johnson said.
“I did place my knee down on him. It was very minor impact and I was quite surprised by his reaction.”
Thompson said he was holding onto Johnson because he didn’t want him to get away and make a play for the ball.
“In the previous round, I cracked my rib, a broken rib on my right side,” Thompson said.
“I had to wear a guard. It’s pretty sensitive.
“I didn’t think there was much force. It just got the right spot of my previous injury.
“Once we stood up, he said a few things.
“I didn’t really want to say why I was in pain because then I could get targeted.”
Tribunal spokesman Wayne Schimmelbusch said the jury found Johnson guilty of misconduct but the force used was deemed to be negligible.