Saturday 21st February
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – GONI III beat BENGOETXEA VI – BELOKI 22-19
On Saturday, Juan Martinez de Irujo and Fernando Goni became the second pair to qualify directly for the semi-finals, defeating Manomanista champion Oinatz Bengoetxea and Ruben Beloki at Labrit. As befits the situation of the championship at this crucial stage, this was another tense and error strewn encounter where winning was the sole object, often at the expense of flair and daring. The match was characterised by a fascinating forward duel in which the two protagonists displayed both brilliance and frailty in equal measure. Bengoetxea pulled out of the bag some particularly extraordinary moves, but it was to no avail as the Aspe pair revelled in the relief of direct progression.
Matters initially looked rosy for Bengoetxea and Beloki, who raced into a 14-6 lead with determination and dominance. Even when the Aspe pair closed to 14-10, they looked outclassed by their opponents, but that is to reckon without the power of Irujo who is nothing if not a fighter. The Asegarce lead gradually closed until Irujo and Goni had squared the match at 19-19, to the thunderous delight of the Pamplona public who clearly relished the fight. Irujo broke the deadlock with a perfectly timed and placed hook to put his partnership ahead for the first time in the game. He then took control with his serve and the comeback was complete.
Irujo and Goni can now sleep easy; they are through and can recharge their batteries for the dramas ahead. Bengoetxea and Beloki must sit at home and wait. They will surely be glued to their television sets tonight, for if Xala and Zubieta beat Olaizola I and Patxi Ruiz, they too will be through. If the bottom pair can pull of an upset, their tournament is over.
Image from: http://www.diariovasco.com/prensa/noticias/200901/18/fotos/2423911.jpg
Source: El Correo Digital