STEVE Johnson's concussion is likely to prevent him from playing for Geelong against Hawthorn in Friday night's blockbuster, but the Cats have baulked at challenging the match review panel's decision to clear Adelaide's Scott Thompson.
The panel reprieved Thompson yesterday, finding their opening-bounce collision was an accident, and causing the usual Monday night debate.
Many supporters vented their frustration, making the comparison with the four-match suspension of North Melbourne's Jack Ziebell for knocking out Carlton's Aaron Joseph in a contest for the ball a fortnight ago.
But Geelong had no real issue with the panel's finding. ''The game's hard,'' Cats football operations manager Neil Balme said last night. ''I don't think the lad [Thompson] meant anything by it and we're OK with that, even though our bloke got hurt out of it.''
North Melbourne football boss Donald McDonald would not bite on the comparison with the Ziebell case. He had the more pressing problem of a two-match suspension for forward Lindsay Thomas to deal with. ''We're not commenting on that [Thompson],'' he said. ''You [media] blokes can put your own commentary in.''
The panel found Thompson's collision with Johnson was partially caused by another Geelong player, Joel Corey. ''After a ruck contest, Johnson is moving towards the loose ball at speed while Thompson is coming to the contest at an angle,'' it said. ''Thompson receives a push from player Joel Corey into the path of Johnson and, at the last moment, he braces before contact is made. It was the view of the panel the contact was caused by circumstances outside the control of player Thompson and no further action was taken.''
Thompson remains eligible for the Brownlow Medal, with a realistic chance of winning it. He is at $6 odds with Centrebet, third favourite behind Essendon captain Jobe Watson.
The incident caused much comment yesterday, with Thompson's teammate Jason Porplyzia arguing it would be wrong to suspend him. ''It just looked like a contest that you would see every week. It was just unfortunate where the hit took place,'' he said.
''It was just a football contest in my opinion. Sometimes they're unavoidable. I hope they don't look too much at the outcome; I hope they look at what the intent of the player was.''
Johnson, who was substituted out of the game soon after the collision, is receiving treatment and Geelong will not know until later this week whether he can play. ''It was a nasty one,'' said Balme. ''He got a proper concussion. I'd say he's more likely not to play than he is to play this week.''
The Cats also will lose Joel Corey (hamstring), but Matthew Scarlett (suspension) and key forward James Podsiadly, who returned from injury through the VFL, are available.
North Melbourne, sitting in the top eight and flying, has had a rough time with the league's judicial process lately and it continued last night, with Thomas being offered a two-match suspension for rough conduct against Melbourne's Daniel Nicholson.
Thomas' record prevented him from claiming a discount. The collision, which left Nicholson stunned, was assessed as ''negligent'' conduct and ''high'' impact, bringing about a three-match suspension. An early plea would reduce it to two matches.
Melbourne's Neville Jetta was offered a one-week suspension for forceful head-high contact on Thomas in the same game.
The panel also has offered West Coast captain Darren Glass a one-match suspension for rough conduct against Brisbane's Jonathan Brown on Sunday.