2017 winners North Midlands try to regain the trophy as they play Derbyshire, who had a winless 2018 campaign last year. North Midlands have picked Dunlop for their home leg, scene of many big wins in the past, while Derbyshire go to Derby Co-op. The team who North Midlands beat in the final in 2017, Potteries & District, are in their group and play Lancashire. Both go to home bankers, Potteries to the Florence, where the Midland Alliance was held last week, while Lancashire go to the big green at Garswood Hall.
Section 2 has three teams with the withdrawal of the Isle of Man, and the reigning champions Warwick and Worcester are the team to sit out this month. The team they beat in the final, South Yorkshire, will look to set up a winner take all clash with them again as they play Cheshire. They have gone to Dearne Sports to try and get a good win with Chris Brown against Tommy Johnstone looks to be one of the best match ups of the day. Cheshire have gone to Rudheath, scene of the Rudheath Open competition currently being run.
A repeat of the 2016 final between Shropshire and Yorkshire looks like the clash of the day. A repeat of that 5 chalk thriller will give spectators a real treat, but neither have gone back to the greens from that day. Shropshire go to Newport, a green they haven’t used recently but has been a banker in the past, while Yorkshire go to Crosland Moor. The other teams in the group are Cumbria and North Lancs & Fylde. Cumbria have resisted using their home banker Lindal and have gone to North Scale Bowling Club. North Lancs have gone to Bamber Bridge Catholic.
Merseyside and Staffordshire have been semi finalists over the last two seasons and both meet first game. Merseyside have gone to an artificial green in Mosseley Hill to get a big win, while Staffordshire have gone to Hammerwich, where they hammered North Lancs & Fylde two seasons ago but then lost at home to Yorkshire last season. Scott Simpson meets Matty Gilmore at number one which could set the tone to the game. Wales and Greater Manchester have underachieved in recent years, and the two meet looking for a platform to build on. Wales have gone to Broughton and Bretton Bowling Club while Greater Manchester go to Ashton CC.