Two crack kiwi woolhandlers have drawn first blood in the Masterton leg of the twin Transtasman shearing and woolhandling series’ by winning the woolhandling test against Australia at the Golden Shears in Masterton tonight.
In the 20th year since a woolhandling test was added to the annual home-and-away shearing sports rivalry in 1998, New Zealand was always going to be tough to beat, with defending Golden Shears Open champion and 2012 and 2017 World champion Joel Henare, of Gisborne partnered with 2008 World champion Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape.
Australia was represented by experienced Mel Morris, of Cressy, Tas., and 26-year-old Sophie Huf, of Hawkesdale, Vic, who in her first international competition was fourth to Henare in the World Championships final in Invercargill on February 11, just four months after winning the Australian title for the first time.
Alabaster, a seven-times New Zealand Open champion and career schoolteacher who was in her fifth transtasman test, reckoned beforehand she always gets nervous, but was able to take some time out beforehand by watching the Golden Shears Open Shearing Championship quarterfinals, before re-entering the “zone” in swhich she would tackle the foes from the western side of the Tasman.
Alongside Henare, who was in his 10th transtasman test, the nervousness barely showed and it was a commanding win for the black-shirts in a contest of eight fleeces for each team, comprising four finewool merinos and four longwooled crossbreds, shorn for the New Zealand team by Lee Edmonds, of Masterton, and Australia-based New Zrealand shearer and World record holder Stacey Te Huia.
Shearing for the Australian woolhandlers were Australia-based New Zealand veteran Hamahona (Sam) Te Whata and son Tipene Te Whata.
New Zealand has now won 28 of the 27 transtasman woolhandling tests, the win being a fillip for the national side ahead of Saturday night’s transtasman shearing test, in which Australia is the TAB favourite to win.
Final results on the second day of the 57th Golden Shears International Shearing and Woolhandling Championships being held in Masterton on March 2-4, 2017:
CP Wool Transtasman Wool handling test: New Zealand (Sheree Alabaster, Joel Henare) 298.4pts beat Australia (Sophie Huf, Mel Morris) 468.48pts.
Men’s Final: Vinnie Goodger (Masterton) 56.7pts, 1; Conan Gray (Masterton) 76.6pts, 2.
Women’s final: Christine Wolland (Eketahuna) 54.2pts, 1; Carmen Smith (Pongaroa) 104.95pts, 2.
Pairs final: Vinnie Goodger and Conan Gray (Masterton) 46.45pts, 1; Jimmy Samuels (Marton) and Riccie Stevens (Napier) 103.75pts, 2.
From Doug Laing, media officer, Shearing Sports New Zealand.