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Leaders display their credentials

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.

Hard days ahead for soft Devils

From The Mercury
Reported by James Bresnehan

IN a scathing assessment of the Tasmanian Devils, coach Daryn Cresswell has described his players as too pampered and not fit enough after their 52-point VFL mauling by Frankston in Launceston on Saturday night.

The stand-alone Dolphins gave Tasmania a lesson in pride in their jumper and commitment to their teammates.

Cresswell said the Devils should follow working-class Frankston's formula as they prepare to meet Box Hill at Bellerive on Saturday.

"Pampered, that's an understatement with our boys, pampered," Cresswell said. "They've got the best facilities going round and we could learn something from Frankston."

The Tasmanians were warned about Frankston's fight.

From Ballarat Courier

GEELONG gave North Ballarat an old fashioned football lesson in the VFL in Geelong yesterday.
There is no other way to describe the 60-point bath which the Cats gave the Selkirk Roosters.

North Ballarat stayed in touch until late in the third quarter, thanks to three goals in the term to Eddie Sansbury.

However, it was nothing more than false hope.

North Ballarat did not kick another goal, while Geelong cut loose with the next eight to romp in 18.17 (125) to 9.11 (65).

The Roosters were simply outclassed.

Geelong superior pace and ability open up the game undid North Ballarat, which was fortunate to stay in contention as long as it did.

In the same way they ended the match, the Cats dominated the opening quarter.

The difference was inaccuracy in front of goal.

Geelong, which went in without Brad Ottens, had the chance to put North Ballarat away, but 3.7 kept North Ballarat in it.

Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald predicted Geelong would be tough to overcome, but he was extremely disappointed with the way North Ballarat fell away.

Skipworth blow

From Bendigo Advertiser

THE season could be over for star Metricon Bendigo Bombers recruit Hayden Skipworth after he seriously injured his left knee in Saturday's VFL loss to Port Melbourne.

In what was a dirty day for the Bombers, Skipworth ruptured the patella tendon in his left knee early in the first quarter of Bendigo's 15.14 (104) to 9.10 (64) loss to Port Melbourne at TEAC Oval.

The injury to the 24-year-old occurred when he landed awkwardly after being involved in a marking contest.

Skipworth was operated on last night, and the Bombers will learn more on the extent of the injury to the classy midfielder today.

"I spent an hour with Hayden last night and he is really shattered and distraught about the whole situation," Bombers coach Matthew Knights said yesterday.

"When one of your key players and leaders goes down it certainly takes the sting out of the group a bit.

"You would say with a ruptured patella tendon it's at least going to be a 12 to 16-week injury, but it could be up to six months.

"It looks highly doubtful he will play again this year."

Skipworth joined the Bombers during the pre-season after playing 44 AFL games with the Adelaide Crows.

Dolphins swamp the Devils

From Sunday Examiner
Reported by Phil Edwards

THE Tassie Devils must have felt like the Anzacs under fire on the beaches of Gallipoli as they succumbed to superior enemy fire- power in their Anzac Day commemoration match against Frankston at Aurora Stadium yesterday.

The Devils were never in the hunt for the Alec Campbell Cup as a fitter, stronger and more skilful Dolphins outfit gave the home side a football lesson which left Devils coach Daryn Cresswell seething after the game - Tasmania meekly surrendering 15.12 (102) to 7.8 (50).

Frankston led at every change extending their nine-point quarter time lead to 21 points at half-time, 34 at three-quarter time before finally forcing Tasmania to capitulate by 52 points, in a disappointing display.

The Devils showed plenty of endeavour and a willingness to run and carry the ball but were plagued by skill errors, fumbles and costly turn-overs.

They also struggled to kick goals all night with full-forward Adam Derbyshire held goalless and Brodie Moles the only multiple goal-kicker with two.

The non-aligned Dolphins on the other hand were more systematic in their movement of the ball.

They rebounded skilfully from a rock-solid defence and were far more accurate in disposal by foot and hand going forward.

Small forward Justin Berry was a stand-out booting five goals for the Dolphins in best-on-ground performance as he continually found space, winning the Frank McDonald medal for Frankston's best.

Devils give up without a fight

From Sunday Tasmanian
Reported by James Bresnehan

TASMANIA'S mosquito fleet was outplayed at its own game by Frankston's super-quick band of brothers in their VFL clash at Aurora Stadium last night.

With the Anzac Day prize of the Alec Campbell Cup up for grabs, the Dolphins ran riot on the big Launceston battlefield, winning a fast and furious contest 11.10 (76) to 6.6 (42).

The Dolphins' bag of tricks included scintillating running and vice-like defence, while the Devils kicked their lowest score of the season.

"The Frankston boys certainly play for their footy club and their jumper, there's no doubt about that," said Devils coach Daryn Cresswell.

"They were terrific in the way they ran and worked so hard for each other.

"Our boys have got to take a leaf out of their book."

Cresswell is coming to the end of his tether with players that won't stick to the game plan.

Club chief calls it quits

From Bendigo Advertiser

THE Metricon Bendigo Bombers are searching for a new chairman after Warren Driscoll shocked the club yesterday by announcing his resignation.
The Bombers chairman since September 2003, Driscoll's reign as chief of the Victorian Football League club will come to an end on June 30.

Driscoll cited expanding business interests and family commitments as the reasons behind his departure.

"I have a chance to be heavily involved in an exciting business venture and I've been getting busier and coming under more pressure with that in recent weeks," Driscoll said.

"Being chairman of the Bendigo Bombers is a big job with a lot of travel and with my other commitments it's getting harder and harder for me.

"One of the reasons why I want to leave at the end of June is because it will be easier for the new chairman to get used to the job and make life easier for 2008."

Driscoll denied speculation a rift between he and some Essendon officials had played a part in his decision.

"There's no truth in that at all," Driscoll said.

"We all have difference of opinions at time, but I have no problems with anyone at Essendon."

Driscoll said he departs with the club on an upward spiral on and off the field.

Roosters facing height test

From Ballarat Courier

COMBATING the height and power of Brad Ottens looms as North Ballarat's biggest headache in the Victorian Football League at Geelong's Skilled Stadium tomorrow.
If Ottens stood alone as tall timber for the Cats, his influence would not pose such a major threat.

However, the Selkirk Roosters will also need to deal with Charlie Gardiner and Henry Playfair in an attack full of big marking power.

So it comes as no surprise to see North Ballarat coach Gerard FitzGerald contemplating using youngster Justin Hardy at centre half back.

Not only does the teenager have the height, he also has the mobility and importantly growing confidence after shining against Tasmania on Sunday.

Shaune Moloney will be there to lend support as will Jesse Smith, who is improving with every game after basically missing all last year with an ankle injury.

The athletic Smith probably needs just one standout performance to force him back into the Kangaroos line-up in the AFL.

North Ballarat has its own big manpower in attack with Orren Stephenson and Tristan Cartledge floating between the ruck and forward line.