Welcome to The Nightwatchmen, a weekly opinion piece by sports writers Nick Guthrie and Tom Barber.
The pair will look at what's happening within cricket in and around Dubbo across the 2022/23 season.
What a season we have seen so far across all three senior grades in Dubbo.
The top spots in each competition are only decided by a handful of points with just a week remaining before Christmas.
South Dubbo have broken through for three consecutive RSL Whitney Cup wins while RSL Colts, Newtown and CYMS have all been impressive at times.
Macquarie along with Newtown Ducks and Demons have dominated the RSL Pinnington Cup as has Macquarie White in the RSL Kelly Cup.
With that in mind, let's have a look at what we have learned from the opening half of the season.
Souths' future is bright
Before the start of the season, I wrote in this column Souths would score a 'shock' but little did I know they would win three straight matches.
RSL Colts, Newtown and Macquarie have looked on as the Hornets have seemingly emerged out of sight, with there being a real belief around the club that Souths can realistically push, if not make the finals.
Hugh Sienkiewicz has been a welcome addition to the side for this season and has captained the group in some fixtures with Greg Rummans being away while James O'Brien has really yet to fire.
Making the wins even more impressive is the fact Souths have been put under pressure in each match but a youngster has stood up to take the game on.
Against RSL Colts, it was Harry Roscarel while Ram Haridharan and Hugh Ridley both fired against Newtown the following week.
Lachie Rummans was the next Hornet to stand up for his side in a tough situation, the all-rounder's innings of 78 not out was enough to guide Souths to a win over Macquarie.
If recent performances are anything to go by, Souths could be a side to watch over the next few seasons.
Whitney Cup is more than a one-horse race
RSL Colts may be top of the table but this season is anything but done and dusted just yet.
Colts have a four-point advantage over Newtown with just a single point separating the latter and CYMS, making for an exciting final half of the season.
Many people including us, believed RSL would cruise through the season without little trouble but Newtown, CYMS, Souths and Macquarie have all shown at times they can match it with the best in the competition.
Keep an eye on the fixtures in January as RSL Colts take on CYMS in the first round after Christmas, in a match that should be a cracker.
Newtown and CYMS will also play two-day fixtures against RSL Colts in the new year, matches which could have a massive impact on the ladder once the finals roll around.
Ducks are determined to avenge their heartbreak
After the Newtown Ducks lost last season's RSL Pinnington Cup semi-final in the last over, you wouldn't have blamed them for starting slowly. But they've done anything but that so far in 2022/23.
Leading into the last round before Christmas, the Ducks hold a single-point advantage over the rest of the competition with Macquarie and Newtown Demons hot on their heels.
Regular contributors Harry and Jack Kempston have been great as usual while younger brother Charlie has shown signs he could cause some damage after the break.
An experienced bowling attack featuring the likes of Jakke Gardiner and Shane Groen has kept things tight with the ball as the Ducks have only lost a single game to start the season.
If the side continues to fire once the business end of the competition rolls around, then anything could happen in the finals but I feel the Ducks could lift the Pinnington Cup this season.
Macquarie White goes from strength to strength
Should Macquarie White defeat Narromine this weekend, the side will be the only team in all three grades to reach the Christmas period without a loss.
Each week it seems at least one of the side's players features in our RSL Kelly Cup Team of the Week following a wonderful batting or bowling performance, with often players providing both every Saturday.
Whether it's Luke Patis with the bat or Brad Turner with the ball, Macquarie White seems to be running on all cylinders heading into the break.
Newtown Tigers, CYMS White and Macquarie Blue occupy the other spots in the top four currently but the ladder leaders are eight points clear in first, an advantage which could extend this weekend against Narromine.
Dubbo look as if they have returned to the top
In one of our first columns for the year, Nick mentioned he thinks Dubbo can return to the top of the Western Premier League and even without the final, I think they've done just that.
Dubbo cruised into the final of the competition which will be held at No.1 Oval next January against either Orange or Bathurst, after winning all three of their rounds game in easy fashion.
Bathurst has long been Dubbo's biggest rival over the past few seasons but it seems as though it will be the latter's title to lose.
With the way some of Dubbo's batters are playing right now, you'd like to think that might even be enough to get them over the line if the final was played tomorrow.
Making things even more likely of a Dubbo win is the fact that core players Ben Knaggs, Marty Jeffrey and Lachlan Strachan all lead the RSL Whitney Cup in wickets with just a single round before Christmas.
Don't be surprised if Dubbo takes out the Western Zone Premier League title for the first time in a few seasons.