Monday 1st April, Eibar
BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ beat BERASALUZE II – ALBISU 22-17
Pairs Championship Semi Final
Easter Monday saw a good crowd at Astelena for the second of the holiday weekend’s semi-finals. Here, Bengoetxea and Beroiz were the clear favourites and the form book was in no way upset, despite the never-say-die fight of Berasaluze. The favourites won the match essentially because of their balance as a pair. Bengoetxea and Beroiz, from the start of the tournament, have worked as an equal partnership, Beroiz hitting long and powerfully to set up a solid attacking platform for a partner who has seldom failed to use it. In contrast, at least here, their opponents were a one man show. Berasaluze played like a man possessed on Monday, which is more than can be said for Albisu, who leaked error after error, mishit after mishit. Eleven of the seventeen points the losing pair achieved were thanks to winners from Berasaluze but there is a limit to what anyone can do to bail out a partner with this lack of form.
The game started with nervous errors from both pairs, but it was Bengoetxea and Beroiz who settled first and eked out a gradual lead, moving from 2-6 to 4-8 and 5-9. Their opponents closed the gap to 8-9 but all hopes of a close game seemed dashed thereafter when seven straight points took the lead to 8-16. However, to the credit of Berasaluze, he was not prepared to give the cause up so easily and dragged himself and Albisu back to 14-16 and then 17-18. However, Albisu’s woes continued. He hit short all too often, looking at his hands with disgust as if hoping to find some answer in them. Many of the balls which landed inside the frontis were barely inside. Bengoetxea and Beroiz exploited the weakness he showed and were merciless in targeting him as Berasaluze stood resigned. They closed the game out with four straight points, the final one of which came due to an error from Albisu, just as if to make the point even starker.
With the first two semi-finals out of the way, it would be hard to bet against Irujo-Zabaleta and Bengoetxea-Beroiz facing each other in the final. Both did an excellent job this weekend, looked solid and unruffled and crucially, both worked wonderfully as a team. Both of the losing pairs are unbalanced, with the forwards propping up an often ailing defender. However, there are two weeks left before we know the line-up for the finale; one upset and things could yet be very different.
Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-3, 2-3, 2-6, 3-6, 3-7, 4-7, 4-8, 5-8, 5-9, 8-9, 8-16, 14-16, 14-17, 15-17, 15-18, 17-18 , 17-22
Service winners/errors: Berasaluze 0/0, Bengoetxea 2/1
Winners/errors: Berasaluze 11/3, Albisu 1/11, Bengoetxea 5/3, Beroiz 1/1
Match time: 68:13 with 25:33 of actual play
Balls hit: 501
In the Promocion Championship semi-finals, Gorka and Cecilio suffered the agony of a 21-22 defeat in their home town of Ezkaray by Rico IV and Untoria. Meanwhile, Apezetxea and Larrinaga won 22-7 over Tainta and Ladis Galarza at Ogueta.