This weekend will see the curtain fall on the 2017/18 Dubbo and District Cricket Association season.
As is always the case, the past six months or so have thrown up some terrific performances and a little bit of controversy to boot.
Minor premiers Rugby will tackle Souths in the Whitney Cup grand final at No.1 Oval on Saturday and Sunday, with the Hornets progressing to the decider on the back of a tense 38-run win over Macquarie last weekend.
With the long, hot summer of cricket about to end, we decided to look back at the last five grand finals and the stories that stemmed from them.
The topic has provided plenty of conversation in the Liberal office this week, and what better place to start than a match that saw the dominant club in Dubbo regain top billing.
2012/13: RSL-Colts 3/88 def Rugby 82
A year after Rugby ended their seven-year reign as first grade champions, RSL-Colts returned to the top of the tree courtesy of a dominant win inside a day at No.1 Oval.
Rugby skipper Jordan Moran won the toss and elected to bat, but Colts’ collective effort with bat and ball was too much as they skittled the defending premiers for just 82.
Jacob Bruce snagged 4/34 off 17 overs to be the pick of the Colts bowlers, while only Moran (20), Mitch Bower (16) and Ross Horrocks (16) could reach double figures for Rugby.
Fittingly it was Colts’ first-year skipper Chris Morton who hit the winning runs after Greg Buckley (26no) and Brad Cox (25) decided they wanted to end the contest before stumps on day one.
“We did everything well today and it was just our day. I don’t think there is that much between the teams to be honest,” Morton said afterwards.
“There wouldn’t have been a person who thought this would happen at the start of the day.”
Moran was philosophical about the outcome, admitting his side was outplayed
“There’s nothing that can be done about it,” he said.
“The simple fact is we played some bad shots, myself included.
“I thought Harry Kempston and Ross Horrocks showed that if you were content to dig in and just play each ball on its merits then you would look pretty comfortable but by that stage the damage had been done.”
2013/14: Rugby 8/201 def Macquarie 120
(The Fairytale Is Ruined)
A grand final without RSL-Colts, for the first time in a decade, featured a build-up that centred around Macquarie stalwart Jason Green’s hunger to win a Whitney Cup.
After 25 years playing with the club, Green was competing in his first grand final.
But Rugby, and some rain, were the spoilers.
The match was reduced to a one-day contest as no play was possible on the Saturday, and the Blues started well enough, reducing Moran’s men to 3/30 at one stage.
But 62 from 35 balls from Ben Taylor helped them reach 8/201, and it was an insurmountable task.
Ben Patterson snagged four wickets and Mitch Bower three as the Blues were bundled out for just 120 in reply.
“We were 3-30 and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy batting first but it just shows what you can do with wickets in hand,” Moran said.
“Turbo got the rewards today and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone hit them that clean that often and we probably would have only got 140 if it wasn’t for him.”
For Green, it was a case of what could have been.
“We bowled alright early, the first 25-30 overs were good but we just lost our way and didn’t bowl to our plans in the last 10 and ‘BT’ (Taylor) hit some big sixes and we just bowled to their strengths and that was more disappointing than anything,” he said.
“We should have been chasing 140-150 and chasing 200 was always going to be a hard task but the better team won on the day and they were too good.”
2014/15: RSL-Colts 9/310 def Newtown 144
(The Empire Strikes Back)
Colts’ time in the grand final wilderness didn’t last long, and it was a young Newtown outfit that felt the brunt of their frustration.
Newtown had taken out the T20 competition earlier in the season, and were riding a wave of confidence, but couldn’t combat the sheer class of the red and whites on day one.
Jason Ryan (83), Tim Cox (68) and Greg Buckley (54) each made half-centuries, and Nathan Jones made a handy 34no down the order as Colts piled on the runs to finish 9/310 from their 75 overs.
Cox backed up the next day to take 3/26, while Sean Mason also bagged three wickets as the Tigers could muster just 144 in reply.
Jarrod Toole made 62no, and along with Ben Knaggs (23) was the only Newtown player to really stand up with the bat.
“We’ll learn, we’re a young team but we dropped too many catches and you can’t afford that against Colts,” Newtown skipper Mat Skinner said.
“Three hundred was always going to be a big chase, one of the top four needed to get a big hundred and we lost two early and then I went and it put a lot of pressure on the rest.
“They [Colts] played tight and as soon as they got a sniff they took full advantage.”
For Colts, the win capped off an almost-faultless season.
“We only lost two games and both of those were by less than about 20,” skipper Chris Morton said.
“We finished on top by, I think, more than 20 points and then won the final by 150 runs, it doesn’t get much better really.”
2015/16: Macquarie 9/272 def Souths 124
Arise, Sir Jason Green.
It had been 25 long years since the Macquarie veteran had made his first grade debut but he broke his Whitney Cup duck in 2015/16 after the Blues’ scored a drought-breaking victory over Souths.
The win was set up on day one as the Macquarie middle-order stood tall.
Green top-scored with 65 but was ably assisted by Angus Cusack (59), Ed Haylock (43), Dan Medway (35) and Dalton Medcalf (33) as they amassed a competitive total of 9/272.
After play on day one, opinion was divided as to whether it was enough as Souths had arguably the deepest batting lineup in the competition.
But it was more than enough, as Ben Taylor (4/34) and Brad Johnson (3/10) stung the Hornets.
When Jeremy Dickson took the catch that sealed the win, Green was unusually short of words.
“It’s the monkey off my back and people kept saying I deserve it but just because you might deserve it doesn’t mean you’re always going to get one,” he said after composing himself.
“You’ve got to work hard and we have been working hard. This win isn’t just for this year, this win stems back 15-20 years ago to the likes of Graham Dyball, he needs a special mention, Johnny Wallace and all the old heads who have stayed at the club and helped us through the tough times and there have been tough times.
“To come from where we were, we almost folded there a couple of times and a lot of people say it goes around in cycles and it probably does but my cycle has been 25 years and I hope my next one isn’t that long.”
Souths were understandably disappointed after the match, not just for losing the match but for producing one of their poorest batting efforts of the season.
“To put all that work in you want to finish the season on a good note and our effort didn’t reflect the cricket we’ve played this summer,” captain Tim Berry said.
“But full credit to the blue boys, they’ve been outstanding all year and 272 was always going to be a tall mountain to climb and we couldn’t get there.
“It’s disappointing but all the boys tried.”
2016/17: RSL-Colts 151 def Souths 147
The previous four years had featured largely one-sided decider but this was one that had everyone on the edge of their seats.
Colts did what only they were capable of, finding a way to secure victory from the jaws of defeat.
Souths captain Mitch Bower stood up with the ball on day one, claiming five wickets, but Colts managed to scratch out a defendable target thanks to some stubborn resistance from Tim Cox (32), Jason Ryan (28) and Chris Morton (23).
Most thought 151 wasn’t enough, particularly when Souths crawled to 0/17 at stumps on day one.
Mark O’Donnell made a gritty half-century for Souths, but wickets kept falling throughout day two as Colts managed to keep themselves in the contest.
When number 11 Cameron Herd came to the crease with Greg Rummans, the Hornets still needed 26.
They clawed their way to the final over, but when Englishman Jake Caudwell trapped Herd in front on the second ball it sparked celebrations from the Colts faithful, capping their 40th season.
“It was unreal, you could feel the buzz and everyone had goosebumps,” Colts captain Greg Buckley said of the thrilling finale.
“Everyone knew it was going to one way or the other but it was amazing and the best feeling I reckon I’ve had with Colts.”