The opening weekend of San Fermin 2012 saw some great pelota, and first on the bill was the festival’s cuatro y medio final between two Navarrese players, Oinatz Bengoetxea and Juan Martinez de Irujo. Despite Bengoetxea’s excellent semi final win over Aimar Olaizola, and Irujo’s loss to the same player in the Manomanista final, Irujo was the favourite here; two straight big match losses seemed almost inconceivable. However, Bengoetxea had not read this script and barely gave Irujo a chance to hit his stride, serving with power and playing at a whirlwind pace. The match was close at 9-7 but eight straight points for Bengoetxea killed off any resistance Irujo could muster. He pulled it back to 17-12, but by that time the die was cast. Victory for Oinatz, 22-12 in 46 minutes.
Both pairs matches played at the weekend finished with the same scoreline. In the first, which took place on Saturday, Olaizola II and Apraiz beat Titin III and Barriola 22-14. Yesterday, 2010 Pairs Champions Xala and Zubieta defeated Berasaluze VIII and Albisu 22-14. Berasaluze was in many ways the more potent of the forwards here, but he was also the more error prone. Xala, while he managed only half the winners of his opponent, committed no errors to Berasaluze’s five. The bigger difference was in the defenders, where Aitor Zubieta had an excellent game with three winners to one error. Albisu was wayward at times and could not match Zubieta’s relentless pressure. Titin III and Barriola play Bengoetxea VI and Begino tonight, while Berasaluze and Albisu play Irujo and Merino II tomorrow.