There was a changing of the guard at the top of the Pairs Championship standings as Bengoetxea VI and Beroiz suffered their first defeat, at the hands of Titin III and Merino II. They lost 22-20 in a very evenly matched game at Adarraga. After having been tied at five and seven, the Asegarce pair looked to have established some supremacy at 16-12, but the Riojans, enjoying their home advantage, fought back. The pairs were tied again at 19 and 20 and there was some controversy when Bengoetxea and Beroiz felt that two crucial refereeing calls had gone against them on 19-20 and 19-21. These were alluded to by Bengoetxea in the subsequent press conference, where he also admitted to nerves as he struggled to overcome Titin. Titin was indeed marginally the better of the forwards, but the player of the match, with his three winners to a single error, was Beroiz.
Scoring sequence: 0-1, 2-1, 5-5, 7-7, 10-12, 16-12, 16-16, 17-19, 19-19, 19-20, 20-20, 20-22
Winners/errors: Titin 8/4, Bengoetxea 9/8
Balls hit: 678
Bengoetxea and Beroiz’s loss means that Martinez de Irujo and Zabaleta go top of the table on points difference. They got the better of Arretxe II and Begino in Pamplona. The favourites outdid their opponents for pace and set the tone right from the outset, racing to 7-0, 10-2 and 13-3. Arretxe and Begino made a brave attempt at a counterattack, closing a little to 14-7, but the eventual winners did not let up for long and closed the match out 22-14 with the minimum of fuss.
The match in Hendaye on Friday was presumably designed as a showcase for Xala in front of his local Iparralde fans, but it was not to be as injury forced his replacement by Jon Jaunarena. Jaunarena, making his debut in a top tier championship, acquitted himself very well indeed, despite the eventual loss suffered by he and Barriola. They were undone 22-19 at the hands of Berasaluze VIII and Albisu who seem finally to be finding their feet in this tournament. This is a second win on the bounce for the Asegarce pair, who have now succeeded in pulling themselves into sixth in the table. Berasaluze was the difference in the final analysis, though Jaunarena only allowed matters to slip in the final few points with some errors of inexperience. Both defenders were solid but fairly unspectacular.
Winners/errors: Berasaluze 13/4, Jaunarena 10/6, Albisu 1/3, Barriola ½
Match time: 50 minutes with 16 minutes of actual play
Balls hit: 330
Ibai Zabala sat out this round of the competition with a hand problem. He was replaced by Alexis Apraiz who assisted Olaizola II to a comfortable win over Gonzalez and Zubieta in Eibar. The vast disparity in this match came in the forwards, where Olaizola ran rings around Gonzalez. Gonzalez, for his part was highly ineffectual, managing only one winner to four errors. In contrast, Zubieta played well behind while Apraiz leaked errors. The initial closeness of the game, which stood at 7-7, was due largely to the unsteadiness of Apraiz, but once he had settled, Olaizola dominated and there was no way back for the Aspe duo, who now languish in 7th. The victors rise to 4th, a trajectory they will hope to continue when Zabala returns this weekend.
Scoring sequence: 0-1/ 1/ 4-1/ 4-2/ 5-2/ 5/ 6-5/ 7-5/ 7/ 8-7/ 10-7/ 10-8/ 16-8/ 16-12/ 17-12/ 17-13
Winners/errors: Olaizola 12/1, Gonzalez 1/4, Apraiz 0/9, Zubieta 2/5
Match time: 60 minutes with 23 minutes of actual play
|Pair||Played||Won||Lost||Points for||Points against||Points diff|
|1||Martinez de Irujo-Zabaleta||6||5||1||131||92||39|
|3||Titin III-Merino II||6||4||2||121||122||-1|
|4||Olaizola II-Ibai Zabala||6||3||2||122||108||14|
In the Promocion Championship, the results were:
Gorka-Cecilio beat Olazabal-Arruti 22-15
Apezetxea-Larrinaga beat Mendizabal III-Merino I 22-21
Rico IV-Untoria beat Tainta-Ladis Galarza 22-8
The game between Lemuno-Aretxeabaleta and Elezkano II-Larunbe has been postponed due to injury. For the latest standings, see here.