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Dubbo CYMS to battle Magpies for Peter McDonald Premiership

The inaugural season of the Peter McDonald Premiership will come to an end on Sunday with a Grand Final clash between Group 11 rivals Dubbo CYMS and Forbes Magpies at Apex Oval, Dubbo.

Both teams finished top two in the Group 11 conference at the conclusion of the regular season, but Dubbo might be hard to beat having lost only one game all season.

After falling short by two points in Round One against Orange Hawks, Dubbo reeled off an impressive 15 consecutive wins - including two dominant finals displays - to secure a spot in the decider.

CYMS centre Jeremy Thurston told the Daily Liberal that hard work and commitment in training has been key to Dubbo’s success this season and it is something that he is proud to be a part of.

"Most of the boys are the same, we train hard all off-season with one goal in mind," Thurston said.

"To win a Grand Final in general would be good but to do it with this bunch of blokes would be one of the best feelings ever."

Forbes had to battle hard to earn their place in the decider. The Magpies had a number of close finishes throughout the season, including a draw against Nyngan Tigers.

Forbes took their game to another level once the finals started, including an away win against Mudgee Dragons who finished top of the Group 10 conference. In the Preliminary Final, the Magpies showed their scoring power, overcoming Orange CYMS in a 40-30 thriller.

With both teams exhibiting their skill in attack this season, defence could determine the result. Dubbo has been the benchmark in the Peter McDonald Premiership this season, conceding only 186 points during the regular season and 18 points across two finals.

If anyone from Forbes can penetrate the Dubbo defence, it will be star fullback Mitch Andrews, who has scored 17 tries this season. He is second in the competition only to Dubbo centre Jeremy Thurston (20).

Thurston, who has arguably been the best player in the Peter McDonald Premiership this season, is the most dangerous player for CYMS.

His size and explosive speed make it hard for any defence to stop him. The extra attention he receives frees up his teammates, making CYMS a hard team to shut down.

"That's why I've scored so many tries, it's having players like that around me," Thurston added.

"It makes things easier. And then when attention gets shifted to me it makes things easier for them. They're highly capable of taking advantage of that."

Zeke Hartwig also looms as a player to watch on the wing for Forbes, as he was one of their best in the two games against Dubbo earlier in the season, crossing the line for a try in each game.

Dubbo came out on top in both games against Forbes in 2022. In Round Five, a weakened CYMS side overcame the Magpies 22-14 in Forbes, followed by a strong performance to win 34-18 at home in Round 11.

Forbes captain Nick Greenhalgh told the Daily Liberal the previous encounters against CYMS will have them well prepared for the Grand Final.

"We know one another pretty well as teams now,” Greenhalgh said.

"It can go either way, so we'll worry about ourselves, and we'll try and be better at the things we've done to stop CYMS in the past.”

Both teams have been here before and know what it takes to come out on top in the big game.

Forbes will be aiming to win their third First Grade Premiership in seven years after success in 2016 and 2018, both of which came against CYMS.

CYMS last tasted success in 2017 when they defeated Nyngan Tigers before losing the 2019 decider to Wellington. They are facing their longest First Grade Premiership drought since the 15 years between their 1986 and 2001 triumphs.

Both teams will be near full strength with Dubbo’s Jyie Chapman and Forbes Mitch Andrews both free to play in the decider after facing suspension following reports in the preliminary finals.

The Grand Final kicks off at 3pm at Apex Oval on Sunday.

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