From The Age
Reported by Sean Cusick

LAST year's grand finalists, Sandringham and Geelong, have asserted themselves as the VFL's dominant clubs after convincing wins yesterday.

Sandringham struggled to shake a determined Casey Scorpions outfit and led by only 27 points at the final break, before a nine-goal final quarter delivered them a 79-point win and kept them a game clear on top of the table.

With spearhead Nick Sautner enjoying an absorbing duel with St Kilda's James Gwilt, Melbourne youngster Michael Newton played his finest senior game to date, booting six goals.

Newton showed goal smarts and looked strong on a fast lead.

Taken with pick 43 in the 2004 draft, 2007 shapes up as a defining season. At 20, he is yet to make his Demons debut and last season played half the season in the Sandringham reserves after struggling to consolidate a place in the seniors.

"Definitely, it's the best game he's played in the VFL and his most consistent game," Sandringham coach Mark Williams said.

"Most definitely (it's a make or break year for him). He knows what he has to do and he's starting to understand what we want from him."

Another standout for Sandringham was Melbourne defender Ryan Ferguson. He took two screamers — including a 360 degree-spin chest mark on his opponent's shoulders — and finished with two goals. The only concern for the Zebras was the tripping report of captain Chad Liddell.

St Kilda's Michael Gardiner did not play for the Scorpions after being named on Thursday night.

According to St Kilda, his injured foot once again became sore on Friday after Thursday training.

At Skilled Stadium, a 13-goal second half saw Geelong recover from a slow start in the wet to smash North Ballarat by 60 points.

Geelong rookie Todd Grima, 20, continued to impress, booting five goals to take his season tally to 17.

Midway into his second and final year on the rookie list, the 192-centimetre Tasmanian knows he is playing for his career. Geelong will find it hard not to elevate him to the senior list on this form.

Last night Frankston provided an upset in Tasmania, thrashing the Devils by 52 points. Justin Berry kicked five goals.