THE Dubbo Kangaroos' dream of back-to-back Blowes Clothing Cup titles is over after the defending premiers lost to Orange Lions in Saturday's preliminary final.
The Roos made the trip to Pride Park with the chance to advance to the decider against Orange Emus but a Joe Lasagavibau-inspired Lions side proved too strong, winning 33-17 and setting up the first all-Orange Central West Rugby Union first grade grand final since 1991.
Lasagavibau was immense, breaking the line on four occasions as well as laying on two of City's five tries, and while he deflected most of the attention on to his forwards after the match, he had a somewhat ominous warning for Emus ahead of next weekend's blockbuster too.
The Lions can get better.
"People might say we clicked," Lasagavibau said.
"But for us boys, week in, week out, we've got to improve. We have to improve today into the last match of the year.
"I'm sure we're confident. We'll work hard during the week and come Saturday we'll give it our very best."
VIDEO: Dubbo Kangaroos Shaun McHugh talks after Saturday's loss
The Roos had their chances, especially in the opening exchanges, but could not make it count and a visibly disappointed Roos skipper Shaun McHugh said that cost his side a shot at consecutive titles.
"Simple as that," he said.
"I think we missed too many one-up tackles and against a backline like that you can't do it.
"Disappointing, but halfway through the first round of footy I don't think anyone would have thought Dubbo Roos would be here against City.
"We're pleased with the season, but up until today we were defending premiers."
Orange City started the better of the two finals combatants in a blistering opening five minutes, but it was Dubbo who seriously threatened for first points.
The visitors entrenched themselves in Lions' territory for the first 10 minutes, peppering Orange City's line repeatedly.
But, in a telling blow, Dubbo was denied each time.
And after deflecting a throng of Roos' attacking raids, City earned one of their own at the 15-minute mark, and Lasagavibau made it count.
Skipping around his opposite, Lasagavibau then found space, drew the fullback and produced a stunning inside pass for Sam Coote to touchdown, posting the game's first five-pointer to take the hosts' lead to 5-nil.
It was, however, a short-lived advantage.
A clear standout for Roos all game, Eli Kinscher pounced on a lose City pass to score Dubbo's first points, with the boot of Hena Tuatea edging the visitors out to a 7-5 lead.
VIDEO: Orange City Lions Joey Lasagavibau talks after Saturday's win
A converted try to Sam Dwyer and penalty to Dubbo's Hena Tuatea had the halftime score at 12-10 in favour of the hosts and they started the second half the better with Tatafu Na'aniumotu scoring a rampaging try.
Dubbo turned things in their favour after that but could not execute and with two forward passes cruelling their chances.
Lasagavibau set up a try for Cameron Cole shortly after and with the score at 26-10 with 20 minutes remaining, that was effectively it.
Orange City compiled a brilliant length-of-the-field, counter-attack try to Tom Fisher before Tuatea scored a late consolation try for the Roos in the 33-17 result.
ORANGE CITY LIONS 33 (Tatafu Na'aniumotu, Cameron Cole, Tom Fisher, Sam Coote, Sam Dwyer tries; Jake Davis 4 conv) def DUBBO ROOS 15 (Elias Kinscher, Hena Tuatea tries; Hena Tuatea conv, pen goal).