Dennington will miss out on playing a division three grand final after an appeal to overturn an ineligible player ruling was unsuccessful at an independent tribunal.
The Dogs accidentally listed all-rounder Sam Worden as the 13th player for their round nine clash with Northern Raiders.
The side had a junior player as a substitute fielder but the title was not attributed on the team sheet, meaning they had 13 players named. Warrnambool and District Cricket Association rules stipulate teams may only name 12 players.
Any others must now be listed as substitute fielders.
Players must feature in four games to qualify for finals. While Worden has four games on MyCricket and did play in those games, he has technically played three as the Northern Raiders match didn't count to his eligibility.
At the end of the day it's up to us to do team sheets correctly, and be across the rules. We've learnt a harsh lesson.- Mick Howley
It means Wesley Yambuk's division three side will instead play off against Spring Creek in the decider despite its defeat in the semi-final.
Warrnambool and District Cricket Association chairman Gordon McLeod said the situation was unfortunate.
He said the association conducted an independent investigation after a result was disputed this past week.
The inquiry found Dennington hadn't correctly complied with the 12-player rule earlier in the season and Worden had therefore been ineligible for the semi-final.
The Dogs appealed the ruling this week but an independent tribunal upheld the WDCA match committee's verdict.
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Dennington president Mick Howley said it was disappointing for the side to miss a grand final after a dominant season.
The Dogs finished on top of the ladder with nine wins and two losses. "The rules are clear on it, we can't deny that," he said.
"We hoped somewhere along the lines someone at the WDCA would say 'this is a very harsh ruling' because we didn't know Sam was an ineligible player.
"Both we and the WDCA thought he was eligible for more than five weeks. "We didn't try to do anything underhand or anything like that. We had other people who could've played.
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"The rule has changed at some point where you used to have someone who is going to sub-field and won't bat or bowl, you had to name them on your team sheet.
"We believed that was still the rule. If we didn't name the kid who had sub-fielded, we wouldn't be in this issue because we would've had 12 and they couldn't deny that Sam did play.
"At the end of the day it's up to us to do team sheets correctly, and be across the rules. We've learnt a harsh lesson."
The division three decider will begin at 12.30pm.
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