Sunday 18th December, Eibar
BENGOETXEA VI – APRAIZ beat ARRETXE II – BEGINO 22-18
The main interest in this match was in seeing how Begino would operate with Arretxe, and whether the latter as a debutante would be able to stand the pace of the elite tier. Begino won the title with Olaizola II in 2011 and might be forgiven for feeling a little aggrieved not to have been paired with him again, being ousted by Beroiz who has had a rather more visible year since. As it happened, Begino proved completely unable to lift Arretxe, who while he played with credit was outpaced by Bengoetxea. The game was characterised by long tough rallies and it exceeded 700 ball strikes in all, but the poetry was removed by the error count, for which Begino was especially responsible. The defender was a rock in last year’s championship, proving a splendid anchor for Olaizola’s attacking venom, but there was little sign of these qualities on Sunday. Bengoetxea and Apraiz were rarely troubled and were ahead throughout, but this win has done nothing to answer any questions about their credibility as a pair for the overall. Consistency is the name of the game in this mammoth championship and on this showing they look less than immovably solid. Still, it is very early days, and much can and will change between now and April.