Saturday 26th February, Pamplona
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – MERINO II beat OLAIZOLA II – BEGINO 22-13
At the start of the competition, this scoreline would have seemed inconceivable, so ill at ease did the Irujo-Merino II partnership seem. However, they are coming into their own, just as Aimar and Begino appear to have, temporarily they hope, lost the plot. The former leaders have now lost three matches in a row, although there is no need to panic just yet, as they maintain second place on their own. The always well anticipated Irujo-Aimar duel failed to spark, as Aimar played at a level below his exalted best. Both forwards made early errors, but when they found their range mid way through the game, it was Irujo who came of slightly the better. He was ably supported by a Merino growing in confidence, who conceded only one error to Begino’s five. Irujo and Merino now sit in 5th, but are tied on points with Gonzalez and Laskurain in 3rd.
Scoring sequence: 0-1 1-1 2-2 4-4 9-6 10-9 11-1 17-11 17-13 22-13
Friday 25th February, Gernika
XALA – BARRIOLA beat BERASALUZE VIII – APRAIZ 22-14
There were no surprises in Gernika, as Xala and Barriola took their seventh victory to cement their place at the top of the standings. The favourites did not have it all their own way in the early exchanges, being forced to come back from 1-6 and 8-12, but they pulled level at 14-14 and lit the afterburners, employing the extra gear which they so often have at their disposal. Berasaluze and Apraiz failed to add to their score, as Barriola in particular underlined the Aspe partnership’s superiority. The victors are assured of a place in the last four, but it is over and out for their opponents, who despite a mid tournament flourish, have now lost six of their nine games.
Scoring sequence: 1-0 1-6 3-8 7-10 8-12 13-12 13-14 22-14.
Image from Rioja2.com