GWS star Johnson to miss preliminary final

Greater Western Sydney have lost their most experienced player for their AFL preliminary final, with forward Steve Johnson accepting a one-match ban.

Johnson risked missing the grand final if the Giants challenged the sanction for a shoulder bump to the head of Sydney’s Josh Kennedy in Saturday’s qualifying final.

The ball had left the area when contact was made and the blow stunned Kennedy, who left the field for a concussion test.

He returned and played out the game but it was not enough to save Johnson, with the incident classed as careless conduct with medium impact to the head.

The 33-year-old’s early guilty plea on Tuesday means he will now miss the September 24 preliminary final against either Hawthorn or the Western Bulldogs at Spotless Stadium.

It marks the second time Johnson has been ruled out of a playoff game through suspension, having missed an elimination final in 2012.

Johnson’s glittering 275-game career makes him one of the most important players in the Giants’ maiden finals campaign.

The 2007 Norm Smith medallist has played all but one game this season, booting 43 goals.

Giants ruckman Shane Mumford will be free to play in the preliminary final after escaping sanction for a hard tackle on Kurt Tippett which left the Swans forward rattled.

The match review panel determined Tippett’s head did not hit the ground during the tackle.

Tippett was diagnosed with a fractured jaw but the MRP found he had sustained the injury during a ruck contest earlier in the game.

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