DUBBO'S hopes of playing at the Sydney Cricket Ground next month have been dashed after the side was beaten by Newcastle powerhouses Merewether at Baker Park, Wyong yesterday.
In a match reduced to 36 overs a side because of rain during Christmas, Dubbo did well to restrict the Lions to just 165, with Ben Strachan and Ben Taylor both claiming three wickets.
In reply the Specsavers-sponsored Dubbo side could manage just 93 with former Australia A quick Mark Cameron doing the bulk of the damage.
Cameron took 4-17 off six overs, including three in one over late, to take away any chance Dubbo had of winning.
Taylor dominated with the ball for Dubbo, removing the dangerous Simon Moore for 25 as well as claiming the vital scalps of Troy Goodwin (18) and Pat Darwen (16).
In an innings which never really got any momentum, Cameron top scored for the Newcastle side with 31 while Moore and David Celep (23) were the only other batsmen to score more than 20.
After removing Jonathon Dunn early, Strachan returned to clean up the tail when he cleaned up both Trent Bush (1) and Tom O'Neill (11) before Jeremy Ford was last man out for two, the second of a pair of run-outs recorded by Dubbo in the field.
In reply Dubbo's top order failed with Mitch Bower (6), Keiran Brien (5), Brad Cox (2), Greg Buckley (4) and skipper Jordan Moran (8) falling cheaply to leave the side 5-35.
Wicketkeeper Jason Ryan (35) and all-rounder Chris Morton (22) put on a 52-run stand to get Dubbo back in the match but the reintroduction of Cameron signalled the end of proceedings.
After rattling Ryan's timber he trapped Lachlan Strachan leg before wicket for a golden duck and got Taylor (1) in the same fashion.
It was a disappointing end to a great campaign for Dubbo, who showed they could be competitive against the top teams in the state.
"We probably let them get 20 or 30 runs more than they should have," Ryan said afterwards.
"In saying that though 166 was probably a reachable target but we lost too many early wickets.
"From there we had to rebuild and while we did that and gave ourselves a show at 5-87 we had to handle another four possible overs from Cameron.
"He is a class act and when he got those three wickets in one over late that really swung it back in their favour.
"At that stage we needed about 10 an over but it isn't a big ground. He just took away any chance we had at that point."
In today's semi-finals, Merewether will play Lake Illawarra while current Newcastle leaders Hamilton-Wickham will meet Albury-Wodonga in the other match.