Sunday 11th November, Eibar
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO beat BARRIOLA 22-10
Of all the Cuatro y Medio quarter final league matches this weekend, this was the one which mattered. The equation was simple; the winner would go through and the loser would be out, each having won one and lost one in the previous two rotations. For the winner, the dubious privilege of meeting multiple champion Aimar Olaizola in the last four. Irujo it was who stepped up his game in devastating fashion, so bringing about the encounter most expected to see in the final.
Barriola is unusual in being a defender with a live fighting chance in this tournament. He made the final in 2010 and beaten by Irujo 22-17 there was no disgrace. However, one sensed he had a mountain to climb at Astelena on Sunday against a rival in no mood to fold in the wake of his last ditch defeat to Berasaluze the previous weekend. Although Barriola snagged the first two points, almost everything subsequently went the way of the favourite. Irujo bossed the show and Barriola proved incapable of matching his furious pace. The Leitzarra was in touch at 6-7, but from then on his deficit only grew. In a mere 174 strikes of the ball, the whirlwind of Ibero was through. He plays the defending champion on Sunday in Bilbao, where the atmosphere will surely top even the enthusiasm displayed in Eibar, where the crowd was in full cry. It is not to be missed.
Scoring sequence: 2-0/ 2-6/ 4-6/ 4-7/ 6-7/ 6-10/ 7-10/ 7-15/ 8-15/ 8-16/ 9-16/ 9-17/ 10-17/ 10-22
Service winners/errors: Barriola 2/1, Irujo 1/1
Winners/errors: Barriola 4/7, Irujo 13/4
Match time: 34 minutes with 7 minutes of actual play
Balls hit: 174