Also victorious in the first round of Pairs Championsip matches were Martinez de Irujo-Zabaleta and Bengoetxea VI-Beroiz. Irujo and debutant Zabaleta were not overly stretched in beating Gonzalez and Zubieta at Labrit last Sunday, running out 22-11 winners. Far closer was Bengoetxea and Beroiz’s win over Berasaluze VIII and Albisu, which finished 22-21. This looked like the most enticing of the first rotation’s matches on paper, with two evenly matched pairs featuring two of the most dynamic forwards on the circuit. Bengoetxea and Berasaluze have both been in great form recently, coming second and third respectively in the Cuatro y Medio and they put on a great show at a buzzing Bizkaia. For the first part of the match, affairs were extremely close with the eventual winners pegged back from 7-4 to 7-8 before the pairs were locked in combat on eight, nine and ten. Beraslauze and Albisu edged ahead 12-10 before Bengoetxea and Beroiz began to exert pressure and looked to be heading for a reasonably comfortable triumph. Thanks to the potency of Bengoetxea’s shot play and the rock solid defence of Beroiz, they forged ahead to 16-12 and 19-14. However, Berasaluze is nothing if not tenacious and, audibly goading Albisu on, he led a revival. They closed to 17-19 before Bengoetxea and Beroiz steadied the ship, giving themselves four shots at match point on 21-17. However, again their rivals fought back, setting up a winner-takes-all final point from 21-21. In a point of high tension, it was Berasaluze who fell first, handing the game to Bengoetxea and Beroiz when his strike fell agonisingly low. We will surely here much more from both couples as the championship progresses.