|Match Date||13th May, 2000|
|Venue||Homebush (Stadium Australia)|
A MAGNIFICENT performance from Andrew Johns almost overshadowed a week of turmoil involving his brother, with the brilliant halfback leading his Knights to a courageous victory over the Bulldogs last night.
If it wasn't a crucial clearing kick, an inspired tackle on a big forward, or setting up his speedy outside backs, Johns was taking on the line himself.
And it was a brilliant Johns solo try midway through the second half that lifted the injury-depleted team to victory.
Johns, who had endured a tough week following news brother Matthew won't be with the Knights next season, sent a warning to Brett Kimmorley — one slip in the Blues jersey and you're gone.
Captain Tony Butterfield said he only needed one word to describe Johns' performance — "gorgeous".
Blues second-rower Ben Kennedy, who also played strongly after backing up from Origin duty on Wednesday night, was full of praise for his team-mate's performance.
"He was outstanding. That's why I regard him as the world's best player," he said.
Knights coach Warren Ryan said it wasn't for him to say whether Johns had done enough to force his way into the NSW team.
"I'll say I'm happy to have him back and I know that he is only going to get better as his fitness gets better," Ryan said.
Johns' performance was highlighted by his brilliant solo try in which he twice stepped off his left foot and then produced a right-foot step to power his way to the line and give his team a commanding 20-12 lead.
He celebrated by picking up the ball and lighting it up as if to smoke it.
"It was a cigar ... it was a cigar," he said after the game.
"I heard there was an award going for the best after-try celebration and if there's an award with a bit of lair in it, then I've got to be involved."
All jokes aside, this was a tough week for Johns. He has had to sit back and watch his brother be shoved aside from the club and then watch Kimmorley run out on the same ground only three days earlier in the Blues' No '7 jersey.
Johns wasn't interested in talking about his brother's situation, preferring to put that behind him.
"I've lost my Australian jersey and my NSW jersey and all I want to do is just go out there and play good football for the Knights," he said.
"I don't want to dwell on any of the other stuff, but it was a hard week with a fair bit of turmoil.
"But when it's all said and done, this was an important game for us today and one we had to win."
Considering the Knights lost Adam MacDougall, Matt Gidley, Peter Shiels and Matt Parsons before the game, this was one of their finest performances of the year.
Those four players joined Robbie O'Davis and Darren Albert on the sideline, leaving Mark Hughes as the oldest outside back in the team at 23.
The Knights were never behind in an entertaining game but the Bulldogs, as they do so often, clawed their way back just as it seemed all was lost.
Andrew Johns copped a high tackle from Ricky Stuart late in the game which concerned the Knights camp.
"If that's a fist," Ryan said clenching his fist, "then that's what he got hit with. He got cracked in the head with a swinging arm and I thought there was also a knee there."
Johns finished the game watching in a groggy state from the sideline.
But on last night's effort, you get the feeling that even a semi-conscious Johns would still have been the best player on the field.
Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes said he was proud of the way his team competed, but conceded Johns was the difference.Source: The Sunday Telegraph
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||0||0||0||0|
|Brent Sherwin||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Ricky Stuart||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Bradley Clyde||Second Row||1||0||0||4|
|Steve Reardon||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Dennis Scott||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Darren Britt||Front Row||0||0||0||0|