Monday 15th February, Tolosa
XALA – ZUBIETA beat OLAIZOLA II – MENDIZABAL II 22-18
Beotobar was packed to the rafters on Monday for this tantalising encounter, with around two hundred turned away at the door. The crowd in Tolosa has never been as passionate or as partisan as that at Pamplona or Logrono, but this particular match boasted an atmosphere to rival any, and the ticketholders witnessed one of the best games of the championship so far.
Aimar and Oier had, prior to this game, been getting better and better, with the former in particular hitting the starry heights with consistency. However, they were brought back down to earth with a bump here by the pair which has now beaten them twice. This was a fourth straight victory for Yves Salaberry and Aitor Zubieta, who have turned their fortune on its head, having lost their first two matches. Xala has been a little out of form of late, relying on the play of Zubieta to hold things together, but here he was emphatically back to his best. He managed five gantxos, including three consecutively, and defended impressively against the wall. The Aspe pair bombed Mendizabal throughout and his inability to break loose from this deadlock put extra pressure on Olaizola. The forward from Goizueta, while not at his brilliant best, played a solid game, but the dominance of his opposing pair was too great. He also, unfortunately for him, blotted his copybook by missing the final two balls.
Both sides are still in ranked in the top four and could thus both progress to the semi finals, but this point for Xala and Zubieta may prove crucial. With a seminal game against Irujo and Beroiz still to come, last year’s runners up may have their work cut out.
Scoring sequence: 0-2, 1-2, 1-3, 2-3, 2-8, 11-8, 11-10, 12-10, 12-12, 14-12, 14-13, 16-13, 16-17, 18-17, 18-22
Source: Diario Vasco