The latest round of BCGBA Senior county fixtures gave us a number of close games and set up a number of mouth-watering clashes for the final set of games on the 2nd July.
We saw the first appearance of the season by reigning champions Yorkshire as they faced Greater Manchester, who in turn had been beaten by North Midlands in May.
The Openshaw AEU club saw a majestic away performance by the champions who claimed 8 of the games on the way to a 29 point win. The Yorkshire home team also dominated the Manchester men with 9 winners on the way to 60 points win at Ossett Flying Horse and an overall win by 89 points.
The means we have a sensational game to look forward to as Yorkshire face off against North Midlands in July. It’s a case of winner takes all and the choice of home green could be decisive. North Midlands used the legendary Bedworth green against Manchester and have the Coundon green to use if they see fit. Yorkshire will be confident going into the game as they have arguably the strongest squad in the competition.
Shropshire leads the way as they claimed their second victory of the season with a win over Wales. A stunning away win by the Shropshire men helped them to a 33 point win and an aggregate of 80. They play Derbyshire in July who are in third place in the group following a 43 point loss to Warwick and Worcester. This was largely down to a 12 point win the W&W away men at Stretton Bowling Club.
The result of this means that Shropshire are now the only with team with two wins and a plus aggregate so they will be confident of making the semi-finals. It will take a massive result for Derbyshire for them to qualify or a Shropshire loss and a Warwick & Worcester hammering of Wales for the Shropshire men to not make it.
South Yorkshire lead the way with 2 wins and a 117 aggregate. Following on from a huge win against Cumbria it was always going to be a battle against Lancashire. The Lancashire men fresh from a huge win over neighbours Merseyside. The South Yorkshire men claimed 8 wins at home on Meersbrook Bowling Club but the Lancashire men claimed 10 wins at home on the fantastic Wigan Subscription Club. The match was decided by just 17 points overall in a close battle.
The other game in the group saw Cumbria condemn Merseyside to a second defeat of the season by 32 points. It could have so different though. Cumbria had an advantage of 31 points on just the last five games at Lindal and Carr Mill. Prior to the roof falling in, the Merseyside away men only trailed, on the slightly terrifying Lindal Bowling Club which has been the graveyard of many an away team, by 8 points. An improved home performance, on the Carr Mill green, will give the Merseyside selectors hope for future games. The selectors will also be looking at the previously very competitive away team to regain some form after a heavy loss on the Horwich RMI green against Lancashire prior to the loss against Cumbria.
This leaves Lancashire hoping that the Merseyside can do them a favour in their game against South Yorkshire whilst they try and overcome their own Cumbrian challenge.
It’s all to play for in this section as all the teams have a win against their name. Potteries went into the game leading the group after demolishing Staffordshire last month. They came up against a very impressive Cheshire team trying to cancel out their 47 point loss to North Lancs and Fylde. Cheshire claimed 7winners at each of the venues to ease to a 52 point win and jumped ahead of Potteries into second place in the group.
The group is now led by North Lancs and Fylde who, after beating Cheshire, tried to claim a decisive win to ease clear in the group. They did the business at home with 10 winners on the way to 70 point win. It wasn’t enough though as an inspired Staffordshire team won 11 of the games on the way to a 75 point win at Hammerwich Bowling Club.
North Lancs lead the group by having a better aggregate (+42) compared to Cheshire (+5) and Potteries (+3) and Staffordshire (-50).
The next games, and final group games, on Sunday 2nd July see North Midlands play Yorkshire with the winners likely to play Shropshire in the semi-final. Shropshire play Derbyshire and Warwick and Worcester, who play Wales, will be hoping for an inspired performance from the Derbyshire men.
South Yorkshire, if they beat Merseyside and disappoint Lancashire and Cumbria, will be looking at Section 4 to see if North Lancs and Fylde can fend off Potteries in their game and hope their isn’t a huge win for Cheshire or a landslide of a win for Staffordshire.
There are many questions to be answered and, what I’m sure will be, a huge number of close bowls to be played.