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.
Finals cricket has finally arrived.
After several months, the first of the Dubbo District Cricket Association grand finals will take place on Friday night.
The MoneyQuest Megahit has been a wide-open competition, for the most part, this season but now only Newtown Tigers and Macquarie remain in the hunt for the title.
Megahit minor premiers Newtown were fortunate enough to have last week off while Macquarie played RSL Colts for the final spot in the decider in a one-sided match.
Let's have a look at the views of both sides and our own ahead of the Megahit final.
The Tigers have been arguably the best T20 club since the competition went back to its current structure and their dominance has continued this season.
Off the back of Steve and Mat Skinner, Dan French and a handful of others, Newtown advanced straight through to the final after winning their three matches during the regular season.
Ahead of the final, all-rounder Steve Skinner believes the group are pretty confident about their chances.
"We've had a couple of washouts so we've only played three out of the five games but the two we missed were against Souths and Rugby," he said.
"We were pretty happy to get through because it means we have beaten the top three teams which gives you a bit of confidence.
"We just seem to like playing under lights, T20s are exciting cricket and we've got a few big guys who are good at it."
A meeting against Macquarie two weeks ago gave Newtown a look at what their opposition can do but Skinner said the Tigers will just focus on the basics.
"Putting bad balls away and bowling good areas, just simple cricket," he said.
"Nothing too flashy, we just want to do our thing. We have got a pretty good fielding unit these days, we've got a few university students.
"Mitch Russo moving back to town adds to our fielding a lot, Ali Raza would be one of the better fielders in the competition.
"He's quick and has a strong arm with a good pair of hands."
Macquarie have lost just one game this season and Skinner knows it just takes one individual performance to turn a final on its head.
"They have probably underperformed with the team they've got," he said.
"They will be dangerous, if someone has a night out like one of the Strachans, Smiths or Ricky Medway.
"Those blokes can win a game for them."
On the other hand, Macquarie has had one of its best Megahit seasons in recent years with wins against everyone except Newtown.
Led by Lachlan Strachan and Lyle Robertson in particular, the pair have been exceptional during the short format.
Their last chance at winning a title in 2022/23, Strachan is hoping the side can do enough on Friday.
"It will be good, having Lyle (Robertson) come from overseas as well it will be nice to try and get something with him in the team," he said.
"It has been a pretty dull season, to be honest, but it's good to try and get something out of it.
"If we are to win then we can take something out of the season."
Macquarie haven't been as successful as Newtown or RSL Colts in the Megahit competition and Strachan believes there is a good reason why.
"The short format doesn't really suit us to be honest," he said.
"But this season we don't know what it is because we've gone really well in the T20s but when it comes to the 40-over stuff we seem to struggle.
"We just need to start putting it all together so we can do better in the Whitney Cup."
Newtown just got the better of Macquarie in their last meeting but Strachan knows his group can improve once again.
"We've had a lot of good contests with them this year," he said.
"We actually haven't beaten them yet, we've had a few opportunities but they have found a way to win which is a credit to them."
Barber: I think this game is going to be a very close one. Picking a winner is difficult but I'm going to side with Macquarie.
I feel Macquarie just have too many match-winners in their side and think their aggression at the top of the order can be enough to get the win, not to mention their bowling attack.
The Smith and Strachan brothers plus Lyle Robertson can give you 20 tough overs to face, something which will put the Newtown batters under pressure.
Guthrie: Newtown is a team accustomed to success in the short form of the game while Macquarie has historically struggled a little in the Twenty20 format until this season.
Going by that you would think Newtown should be the victors, but there's something about the Blues and the way they've attached T20s this season that has me leaning towards them. They've got depth and explosive players who having seemingly thrived when only needed for a few overs with bat or ball. It's detrimental to their long form results as batters have struggled to build an innings, but it's working well here.
The bowling attack is relentless and youngster Tyson Deebank has added plenty to an experienced unit that knows how to win games. Look for him to potentially be a game changer in a Megahit premiership win for the Blues.
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