Northland-raised Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith has tonight completed an amazing reply to his omission from the New Zealand World Championships team with a cleansweep of major events on the final night of the 57th Golden Shears in Masterton
The 30-year-old 2014 World champion was the man of the night as he won his fourth Golden Shears Open title, his first PGG Wrightson National Championship all-breeds title and led New Zealand to victory over Australia in a Transtasman test, the first time New Zealander had been eight tests since March 2013.
Last month he had to sit-out what would have been a defence of the World title he won in 2014, had he not missed out on a place in the team after finishing only third in a selection series final in November.
A crowd of over 1000 packed into Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium waited in anticipation of a possible first home victory in the 20-sheep Open final which crowned the triumphs..
But Smith had left it in no doubt in his defence of Golden Shears the title, overtaking pacemaking Taranaki-based 2015 champion and Scotland international Gavin Mutch on the last two sheep to finish first in 17min 19.05sec, 23.886sec and ultimately win by a comfortable margin of 3.325pts from Feilding shearer Aaron Haynes, who repeated his second placing of two years ago.
Third was Southland shearer Nathan Stratford, who had been top qualifier for the final and who put in one of his best Golden Shears Open final performances but was still unable to sneak a South Island win, which has not otherwise been achieved since 1989.
Smith also had the best quality points, but Mutch sacrificed the points in the race for time as his bid came largely unstuck over the latter stages of the race.
Many would have been surprised by the result of the test match in which Australian shearers Daniel McIntyre, Jason Wingfierld and series veteran Shannon Warnest were all finished their six merinos, three longwools and three lambs before Smith, the first Kiwi to the button.
But it highlighted a special determination which was also evident in the PGG Wrightson National, which Smith won by 1.618pts from 2013 winner John Kirkpatrick. Stratford was again third, and defending champion and five-times winner Tony Coster, of Rakaia, was fourth.
The two-metres-tall super-shearer won the Southland All Nations Open final support event in Invercargill, one of a sequence of wins which stretched to 11 in a row with his Open final win last night. Having first sheared Open class in 2006, with Golden Shears Junior and Senior titles behind him, his latest sequence included his 100th win in the top class.
Henare was in commanding form throughout the Golden Shears to claim the Open woolhandling title for a fifth consecutive time, his total being one short of the record of six won by late mentor Joanne Kumeroa between 1995 and 2012.
The runner-up was Taihape’s Sheree Alabaster, who remained without a Golden Shears title despite having won the New Zealand Championships Open title seven time in Te Kuiti.
Third was Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, and 2012 Junior champion Anne Maree Kahukura, of Omakau, was fourth in her first Golden Shears Open final.
Earlier in the day, Darren Alexander, of Whangamomona, won the Senior shearing title which had been won by father Lloyd Alexander 29 years ago, the Intermediate final was won by Connor Puha, of Kimbolton, and the Junior final was won by 43-year-old Hawke’s Bay farmer and part-time shearer Mark Ferguson, who hadn’t shorn a competition two months ago.
The Senior woolhandling final was won by Taihape’s Jamie McLean, nine years after she won the Junior title, which was this year won by Napier’s Ricci Stevens, deriving some satisfaction after an earlier elimination from his more favoured Senior shearing event.
Rowland Smith winner
From Doug Laing, media officer, Shearing Sports New Zealand.