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Kiwi shearers beat Aussie blades to retain trans-Tasman supremacy

Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand, October 14, 2019

Australian Ken French in Saturday’s trans-Tasman blade shearing test match in Waimate. Image – Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand.

NEW ZEALAND has reinforced its world blade shearing champion status by keeping its unbeaten trans-Tasman record with a win over Australia at the Waimate Shears New Zealand Spring shearing and woolhandling championships on Saturday night.

On Saturday night, Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine, and Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, who won the world title for New Zealand for the first time in France in July, beat fellow world finalists South Australian John Dalla and Victorian Ken French.

The New Zealanders won by a wide margin of more than 24 points in the contest of three sheep each.

Despite the defeat the Australian pair are keen to continue the matches and looking forward to the second leg of the annual home-and-away series at the end of November in Dubbo, New South Wales.

Part of a flourishing blades shearing competition renaissance in Australia, the 59 year-old French and Dalla, a veteran of 12 years’ international competition despite being aged  just 30, said there are now young blade shearers keen to get into the national sides they’ve dominated as a pair since 2014.

“It is good to come here and learn from these blokes.

“They are the best blades shearers in the world,” Ken French said.

McConnell shears his way to blades upset

Surprise Waimate open blade shears winner Mike McConnell. Image – Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand

There was; however. a major surprise on the night when 12-times Waimate blades champion Dobbs and new world individual champion Oldfield were both beaten in the shears’ open blades final by 2012 world championships New Zealand representative Mike McConnell, of Waikari. Dobbs had won the title every year since McConnell scored his third win in the event in 2013.

Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford retained the Waimate Open machine-shearing title – his 10th in the event, just one less than the 11 won by multiple world, Golden Shears and New Zealand champion David Fagan (now Sir David Fagan) between 1984 and 2012.

But it was close on Saturday night with Stratford relying on his legendary quality for victory after being fourth to finish a showdown of 16 sheep each in which just over three points separated the six finalists. The runner-up was Manawatu shearer Aaron Haynes, still seeking his second Open win, and third was Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, who was first finished in 16min 45.56sec – 25 seconds clear of the next man off.

Alexandra wool handler Pagan Karauria won the open wool handling final, the first of two big goals for the season.

Having retained her New Zealand Merino Shears Open title in her home town as the season started a week beforehand, Karauria said: “I have a lot of goals. But I haven’t won at Waimate before, and I haven’t won the Golden Shears Open.”

The runner-up was Amy-Lee Ferguson, from Invercargill, while third was Foonie Waihape, of Alexandra, who had a particularly busy day winning Waimate’s first women’s shearing final and runner-up in the Junior shearing final, which was won by Jack Gordon, of Timaru.

The senior shearing final won by Brandon Maguire-Ratima, of Winton, included a unique appearance by a sister and brother from Marlborough, shearing contractor Sarah Higgins placing fourth and brother Duncan Higgins sixth,

The intermediate final was won by Mitchell Menzies, of Ranfurly, after a post-presentation reversal of placings because of a time recording error which saw Brayden Clifford, of Gore, relegated to second place.

Golden Shears Junior wool handling champion Sunni Te Whare, of Ohai, had her first Senior woolhandling win, while Heaven Little, of Balclutha, won the Junior woolhandling final.

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