Welcome to The Nightwatchmen, a weekly opinion piece by sports writers Nick Guthrie and Tom Barber.
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The pair will look at what's happening within cricket in and around Dubbo across the 2022/23 season.
Just three rounds of RSL Whitney Cup action remain until the finals begin, with three teams still in with a chance of taking out the minor premiership.
Ladder-leaders RSL Colts have enjoyed another successful season so far and over the last month, CYMS have come alive.
Newtown's early season form may have shocked some but have they done enough to remain in the top three and push for the minor premiership?
Let's break down the run home for all six clubs.
We had them as competition favourites heading into the season and RSL Colts have been the most consistent side so far in 2022/23.
A win for Colts on Friday night against Rugby would push them even further ahead of CYMS on the ladder before the pair meet in a two-day match on Saturday.
Grand finalists over the past two seasons, RSL v CYMS have developed into the best rivalry in Dubbo cricket and this match could very well decide which club will enjoy a week off before the grand final.
Chris Morton and Marty Jeffrey have led the way with the bat for RSL, with Mitch Bower also finding form after Christmas while Greg Buckley and Grant Malouf have been tough to get away with the ball.
With matches against South Dubbo (one day) and Macquarie (two-day) to round out the regular season, RSL will probably need to lose two of their last three fixtures to be knocked out of first.
But as things stand, expected the men in red and white to advance to another grand final.
After two losses on the trot before Christmas, CYMS have come out after the break in a real mood.
Wins over Macquarie and Rugby have helped them leapfrog Newtown for second place to set up an exciting match against RSL Colts this weekend.
A big win for CYMS in this match and their last two-day game against South Dubbo could see Ben Knaggs' group sneak into first place.
The Cougars would be a lot closer to the top had they won more of their MoneyQuest Megahit matches, after only winning one of their four matches played.
A one-day match against Newtown later this month also looms as a big test for the side, but expect them to finish second at least.
Another team with four matches to play, Newtown is mathematically still a shot at taking out the minor premiership.
While it does seem more likely that the Tigers will have to settle for a third-placed finish, a couple of big wins over Macquarie and Rugby in their remaining two-day clashes could put a bit of pressure on the top two.
The one-day match between Newtown and CYMS may decide which side finishes second due to their being no real home-ground advantage, it wouldn't mean a great deal.
Look for Steve and Mat Skinner to get through plenty of work with the ball when it comes to the Tigers' turn to bowl in their last few matches.
They've probably been the most consistent T20 side along with Newtown but Macquarie hasn't been able to string successive red ball cricket matches together all season.
The men in dark blue have played the most matches of any side this season, losing eight of their 15 fixtures to date.
Tough matches against Newtown and RSL Colts in two-day fixtures make things look very tough for Macquarie but if they are able to pinch a win in one of those clashes then anything can happen.
Lachlan Strachan has again been one of the best players in Dubbo this season but has had little help from those around him.
Blake and Myles Smith as well as Ricky Medway have been great times but Macquarie's roster is talented enough that they should be comfortably inside the top three.
The Hornets have taken massive steps forward this season and should be extremely proud of their efforts so far but it looks as though they will miss the finals once again.
Prior to Christmas, Souths went on a winning streak which featured teams such as RSL Colts and Newtown, two sides who will battle for the title in March.
Coming into the season, a lot of the group had never won an RSL Whitney Cup match but now the younger players are starting to blossom in front of our eyes.
Hugh Sienkiewicz and Ted Murray are in the top 15 run-scorers for the competition while Lachlan Rummans spent time in Dubbo's Western Zone Premier League set-up.
With matches against Rugby, RSL Colts and CYMS remaining, the Hornets are basically out of finals contention but can control other clubs' fate.
But if they keep the same squad together over the next few seasons, expect the Hornets to be well in contention for the finals.
They showed a lot of fight against CYMS last week after being sent back into the bat but this season hasn't been one of Rugby's best.
Opener Ben Wheeler has been brilliant at times as has Jacob Hill but the lack of a key bowler has really hurt them.
Scoring runs hasn't been a problem for Rugby, they just haven't been able to take 10 wickets most weeks.
Bailey O'Connor and Dugald Shepherd both look like they could be top orders for seasons to come but for now, a lot of Rugby's hopes rest on Wheeler and Hill.
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