Wales and NZ collaborate and compete in sports shear spirit

Terry Sim, March 20, 2023

Welsh shearer Gethin Lewis in the pen of New Zealand team member Rowland Smith in the Waimarino Shears Open semi-finals at Raetihi on Saturday. Photo – SSNZ.

IT was almost as close as could be got to the spirit of international co-operations as the Welsh Development and New Zealand teams prepared on Saturday for the first of three matches in the Wools of New Zealand International Shearing Series.

In the crucial role of pen-boy helping New Zealand champion Rowland Smith shear to a ninth Waimarino Shears Open title in Raetihi was Welsh shearer Gethin Lewis, in the open semi-finals and final either side of the late-afternoon international in which they’d be fierce rivals, just as much as, say, the All Blacks and Wales on the rugby field.

But what may be uncommon in most sports at the top level is nothing unusual in the shearing fraternity, said Hawke’s Bay shearer Smith, who, with Southland gun Leon Samuels, shore New Zealand to a not-unexpected comfortable international victory – 21.039pts.

Gethin Lewis shearing for Wales in the first match of Wools of New Zealand series. Photo – SSNZ.

Smith was quick afterwards to point out it’ll be closer next-time out for open competition Welsh rookies Lewis and Dylan Jones up against such competitors, as 2014 world champion and multiple Golden Shears and New Zealand champion Smith and 2021 circuits champion Samuels.

They face a second match at the Waitomo Caves Sports next Saturday and the third six days later at the March 30-April 1 New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti.

Despatched on mission of learning, with 2019 world champion Richard Jones unavailable for the tour ahead of his defence in Scotland in June, and Wales having never won a shearing teast match in New Zealand – although winning regularly in the countries’ matches in the UK – Lewis and Dylan Jones were not expected to seriously test the two men in the black singlets.

But Smith said he first met Lewis in the UK several years ago and soon realised he was a good shearer in the making.

He had since seen a lot of Lewis, who has shorn several seasons in New Zealand for Napier contractor Brendan Mahony, enough to know that Lewis was the man to have in his pen in the separate competition – shearing’s equivalent of a boxer’s “second” – in such events as Saturday’s Open competition.

“They will learn a lot on this tour and they’ll be a lot better by the third matc,” he said. “Watch them.”

Saturday’s international was over 15 sheep each, with the Kiwis in charge from the outset, Smith finishing first in 13min 8.34sec, with Samuels just two seconds later. Lewis was just 12 seconds later, and Jones finished the job in just over 14 minutes. Samuels’ better shearing points on the board helped him to individual honours.

The Waimarino Open final, soon afterwards and over 20 sheep each, was a hotly-contested race from the start, with barely 10 seconds separating the shearers over the first 10 sheep, led mainly by 58-year-old Digger Balme, still good enough to reach a quality final after 37 seasons in the top class.

Some of the excitement dimiinshed on the 12 when Balme struck one of the ovine world’s less compliant customers – described by a commentator as “as mongrel”, which effectively kicked him to the tail of the field.

Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan ultimately won the race, shearing the 20 in 16min 9.21sec, on sheep that were the same Te Pa Station flock as when he shore 811 lambs in a multi-stand World record 15 months ago.


Rowland Smith finishes first in match against Wales, a clear win to the men in the black singlets. Photo – SSNZ.

Smith maintained the better quality to beat Fagan by more than two points all told, with 2012 world champion and Hawke’s Bay-based Scots shearer Gavin Mutch third, and Balme claiming the fourth place ribbon.

Piopio shearer Clay Harris added the senior title to a list of successes this year, including a win at the Golden Shears, Wairoa shearer Bruce Grace won the intermediate final, the junior final was won by Daniel Rogers, of Eketahnua, and 14-year-old Maaka Nikora added the novice title to his win in the same grade at the Golden Shears.

RESULTS of the Waimarino Shears at Raetihi on Saturday, March 18, 2023:

Wools of New Zealand International (15 sheep): New Zealand (Leon samuels 13min 10.87sec, 48.744pts; Rowland Smith 13min 8.34sec, 50.017pts) 98.761pts beat Wales Development (Gethin Lewis 13min 22.29sec, 55.982pts; Dylan Jones 14mi 4.36sec, 63.818pts) 119.8pts..

Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 16min 13.88sec, 56.744pts, 1; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 16min 9.21sec, 59.061pts, 2; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Dannevirke) 16min 58.31sec,59.84pts, 3; digger Balme (Otorohanga) 16min 58.31sec, 65.466pts, 4.

Senior final (10 sheep): Clay Harris (Piopio) 9min 48.69sec, 37.336pts, 1; Cory Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 10min 20.87sec, 38.144pts, 2; Joseph Gordon (Masterton) 10min 29.83sec, 39.592pts, 3; Adam Gordon (Masterton) 11min 9.21sec, 41.161pts, 4.

Intermediate final (6 sheep): Bruce Grace (Wairoa) 7min 49.22sec, 33.294pts, 1; Callum Bosley (Cornwall, England) 7min 44.17sec, 34.709pts, 2; Taelor Tarrant (Mapiu) 8min 9.93sec, 37.997pts, 3; Josh Devane (Taihape) 9min 11.39sec, 40.07pts, 4.

Junior final (4 sheep): Daniel Rogers (Eketahnua) 7min 1.16sec, 30.808pts, 1; Arvell Rapana (Raetihi) 40.841pts, 2; Orlando Ratima (Hunterville) 7min 4.02sec, 41.701pts, 3; Jade Honeycombe (Miripara) 7min 38.19sec, 44.61pts, 4.

Novice final (2 sheep): Maaka Nikora (Taumarunui) 3min 49.31sec, 24.466pts, 1; George Peacock (Dannevirke) 7min 13.8sec, 35.19pts, 2; Blake Wildermoth (Kaitieke) 6min 7.94sec, 37.397pts, 3; Sam Fletcher (Havelock North) 6min 0.03sec, 38.002pts, 6.

Source – SSNZ.


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