Sunday 17th January, Bilbao
BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ beat BERASALUZE VIII – ALBISU 22-17
This match went to the form book in the end, allowing Bengoetxea and Beroiz to maintain their qualifying spot and consigning their opponents to a lowly seventh after some considerable improvement in recent weeks. However, it was rarely easy for the favourites. In fact, it was Berasaluze who took the game on initially, powering ahead 6-1 with some scintillating winners. However, Bengoetxea grew in defence and managed to turn the tables, putting pressure on Albisu and mastering Berasaluze who was unable to maintain his earlier lightning pace. The game remained very close until the death, when the favourites broke the shackles and strung together a sequence of points to take the tie. They now sit level on points with Olaizola and Ibai Zabala, but their relatively poor points difference keeps them third, with one win in hand over Xala and Barriola in fourth.
Monday 18th January, Tolosa
XALA – BARRIOLA beat ARRETXE II – BEGINO 22-17
The scoreline in Tolosa was exactly the same as that in Bilbao the day before, with Xala and Barriola taking an expected win over the bottom pair. Also in common with the Bilbao match was the closeness of the competition. On paper, the eventual winners should have won this with more comfort but although they repeatedly edged ahead on the scoreboard, they proved incapable of leaving Arretxe and Begino behind. Arretxe fought tooth and nail with the more illustrious Xala and matched him. It was only from 17-17 that the Aspe pair managed to make inroads, their experience at dealing with tight situations in championship games perhaps coming to the fore. Five straight points at the death and the game was theirs. They cling onto a qualifying spot narrowly, but with three pairs in all likelihood competing for the last place, there is much struggle ahead.
The table looks like this, with nine rounds down and five to go:
|Pair||Matches played||Wins||Losses||Points for||Points against||Points difference|
|1||Martinez de Irujo-Zabaleta||9||8||1||197||143||54|
|2||Olaizola II-Ibai Zabala||9||6||3||188||141||47|
|5||Titin III-Merino II||9||4||5||158||188||-30|
In the Promocion Championship, Gorka-Cecilio maintained their unbeaten record, defeating Elezkano II-Larunbe 22-16 in Bilbao on Sunday. The most dramatic match of the week came the following day in Tolosa however, where Apezetxea-Larrinaga came back from 8-18 and 13-21 down against Olaetxea-Ladis Galarza to win 22-21. In the other games, Lemuno-Mendizabal II beat Olazabal-Arruti 22-16 and Rico IV-Untoria beat Mendizabal III-Merino I 22-12. The Promocion table now looks like this.