There were no shocks in the first week of the Promocion semi finals as the first and second pairs in qualifying both registered wins. In Beasain on Friday, OLAZABAL and LARRINAGA took a tight game 22-19 over URRUTIKOETXEA and IBAI ZABALA* (the latter standing in for Inaki Iza). JAUNARENA and CECILIO won in Logrono on Sunday, beating local pair RICO IV and UNTORIA 22-16. This victory was no walk in the park for the Navarre-Rioja duo but a win by six points means they have done enough to top the table going into week two. Last weekend’s two victorious pairs play each other in Ezcaray on Friday, while the losers take each other on in the Riojan town of San Vicente de la Sonsierra on Saturday.
Ibai Zabala and Urrutikoetxea (centre and right) fell just short
In front of a partisan crowd at Adarraga, Titin and Merino got their semi final campaign off to the best possible start against Xala and Laskurain. The contest between the two Aspe pairs to have made the semi finals was an excellent one with the forwards in particularly sparkling form. It appeared as if Titin and Merino would run away with it as they swept to an 11-1 lead, fuelled by Titin’s serve and Merino’s incision from the back. Laskurain found the young defender rather too hot to handle in this early period and Titin’s power to put points away never wavered. Xala and Laskurain took their second point thanks to a lapse from the veteran forward and improbably dragged themselves back into the game at 12-9. However, the Riojans raised their game, restoring their comfortable lead with four points in a row. Xala and Laskurain chipped away at their score to come within four points at 16-20, but the final blows came fairly comfortably for the winners who must surely have been relieved that their opponents’ comeback ended when it did; a loss from 11-1 up would not have done wonders for morale. Titin and Merino find themselves second in the semi-final league, having won by a smaller margin than Olaizola II and Beroiz managed over Berasaluze VIII and Albisu on Friday. They play the table toppers this coming weekend in what promises to be a high octane clash.