Geelong’s stunning fadeout against Brisbane has left a major headache, with star utility Steve Johnson suspended for their AFL blockbusters against Fremantle and Hawthorn.
A day after the shock away loss to Brisbane, the Cats had more bad news on Monday when the match review panel banned Johnson for his high bump on Pearce Hanley.
Geelong could contest the rough conduct case on Tuesday evening, given Johnson misses two games whether a tribunal challenge succeeds or not.
Johnson also missed the narrow round-one win over Hawthorn through suspension and his poor record means the Cats cannot reduce the penalty with an early plea.
The Cats are still second after Sunday’s stunning result, where Brisbane rallied from a 52-point deficit late in the third term and won by five points for the eighth-best comeback in league history.
But Geelong captain Joel Selwood admits their form has been patchy.
They now host in-form Fremantle on Saturday night and then face arch-rivals Hawthorn at the MCG in one of the matches of the season on July 15.
The Cats have a 10-game winning streak over the Hawks that dates back to early 2009.
After losing to Geelong in round one, Hawthorn have won their last 11 games and lead the Cats by one game and percentage at the top of the ladder.
If the Hawks beat Brisbane this Sunday in Launceston, beating Geelong would mean the longest winning streak in club history and confirm their premiership favouritism.
Johnson was forced out of round one for striking Fremantle’s Hayden Ballantyne in a pre-season game.
He has since been one of Geelong’s top players.
The Dockers are also sweating on the availability of a key player this week, with midfielder Michael Barlow undergoing minor surgery on Monday for a jaw injury.
In other match review panel findings, Dockers tagger Ryan Crowley can accept a $900 fine for the unusual charge of pinching North Melbourne star Brent Harvey.
Crowley played on Harvey and they had a running battle in Sunday’s Perth match.
West Coast veteran Andrew Embley can accept a one-match ban for dropping his knees onto the chest of Hawthorn defender Ben Stratton.
Melbourne ruckman Jake Spencer faces a three-match suspension for front-on contact with St Kilda opponent Ben McEvoy.
Tom Simpkin’s poor record means the St Kilda defender cannot reduce his two-game suspension for striking Chris Dawes by taking an early plea.