REIGNING Dorset champions Dorchester will play their two arch-rivals in the opening two matches of their Dorset Funeral Plan Premier League trophy defence.

In what could be billed as the county town side’s toughest possible start, Dorchester will travel to Wimborne on the opening day (May 1).

That test is then followed by a tantalising match against old enemies Poole Town at Dorchester Rec a week later.

It will be the first contest between the sides since Dorchester claimed the rejigged 2020 Division One title thanks to a two-wicket win in September.

Victory gave Dorchester an historic back-to-back title win after collecting the 2019 Premier League silverware.

Later in May, Dorchy face successive derbies against Bere Regis (May 22) and Martinstown (May 29).

Dunham’s men will go on to visit Shroton in the final game of the campaign (Aug 28).

Meanwhile, Bere and Martinstown begin with a derby on the opening day.

Sam Kershaw’s Martinstown finish their campaign away to Christchurch, while Brian Keegan’s Bere end at Poole.

In County Division One, there is a spicy derby between Portland Red Triangle and Weymouth at Reforne to open the season (May 1).

The return clash is scheduled for Saturday, July 3 at Redlands.

Weymouth host a west Dorset derby with Beaminster on May 22, going on to finish their year at home to Marnhull on Saturday, August 28.

Portland continue their rivalry with Compton House on June 26, before entertaining their enemies on August 28 in their final game.

In Division Two’s curtain raiser, promoted Dorchester Seconds welcome Cerne Valley in a derby.

The highly-anticipated clash between Dorchester Seconds and Puddletown takes place on May 29, with the return derby on July 31.

Puddletown, who narrowly missed out on promotion to Division One in 2019, end their season at home to Cerne, while Rob Nobbs’ Dorchester are at home to Poole Town Seconds.

Promoted into Division Three, Abbotsbury commence their year at home to Chalke Valley (May 1) and finish 2021 at Kingston Lacy (Aug 28).

The Dorset Cricket Board has shuffled Division Five into regional tiers, with a new East and South league alongside a north and west division.

Hopes are high that a return to a normal 18-game season can be undertaken this summer after Covid-19 badly affected the 2020 campaign.

Mandatory sanitising breaks were implemented every six overs, along with two-metre social distancing and individual teas.

Matches were also reduced from 45 overs to 40 per side to accommodate the extra stoppages in play.