NEW Zealand’s shearing team has ended an otherwise triumphant year with a disappointing end to its month-long tour of Scotland, England and Wales.
Shearing on the CP Wool UK tour’s last day at the Corwen Shears in Denbighshire on Saturday, new world champion John Kirkpatrick and former champion Rowland Smith were beaten by Wales for the fourth time in a row. The new Zealanders also had to be content with the minor placings in the Corwen Shears Open final, which over the years has been a particularly happy hunting ground for New Zealand’s best shearers.
Welsh combination Gwion Lloyd Evans and Richard Jones won the test by three points, taking Wales to its first 4-0 series win. New Zealand has still not won a series in Wales since 2011 and Wales has never won a test match in New Zealand.
Smith, the reigning Golden Shears and New Zealand open champion, also just missed-out on one last individual title on the tour, finishing runner-up in the Corwen Shears Open final. He was just three-tenths of a point from winner Matthew Evans, while defending champion Kirkpatrick was fifth after copping a maximum 5pts penalty during the six-man final over 20 sheep each.
New Zealand faced seven tests on tour, claiming two wins, both against England after starting the tour with a narrow loss to Scotland at the Lochearnhead Shears on July 1.
Smith, who won his world title in Ireland in 2014, shore in finals of four of the five open all-nations events in which he competed on tour and won in the second outing, at the Lakeland Shears in Cumbria, on July 8. Three days later he was runner-up to brother and Cornwall-based shearer and farmer Matthew Smith in the Great Yorkshire Show Open final.
Kirkpatrick, who in Invercargill in February won the world championships final at his fourth attempt, shore in six of the seven open all-nations finals on tour, and won at the Lampeter Shears in Wales on July 2, when test-match newcomer Jack Fagan was runner-up.
Fagan was substituting for Smith, who had his biggest moment of the month when he shore a world record 644 strong wool ewes in eight hours last Monday, in Cornwall. Smith took a two-show break from the tour and broke the previous record, set in New Zealand in February, by 39 sheep.
Kiwi pair fail to repeat 2016 win
The Kiwi team of Rowland Smith and John Kirkpatrick slipped to 3-0 down in the Welsh series in the third test on Wednesday, less than 48 hours after Smith’s world record shear of 644 ewes in eight hours in Cornwall, England, and end the tour at Corwen on Saturday.
Smith also missed out on a place in the Royal Welsh All-Nations Open final which he won last year, when he was the third New Zealand winner of the event in three years, after David Fagan’s win in 2014 and son Jack Fagan’s win in 2015.
Smith was first to finish the 20 lambs in the third test, taking 11min 51sec and beating Welsh shearer Gwion Lloyd Evans by five seconds. It was the board and pen points of Corwen shearer Richard Jones that carried the day as he swept back into the national side after winning the Champion Shearer of Wales final and scored best pen and board judging points.
Jones also won the All Nations Open final, in a rare outcome after being last to finish. Taking 14min 4secc for the 20 lambs he again had the best board and pen points. Smith and Kirkpatrick won last year’s test at Corwen, where Kirkpatrick also won the open all-nations final.
Earlier at the show, former multiple lower grades shearing and wool handling finals winner Connor Puha, the top-ranked junior shearer in New Zealand in 2015-2016, was fourth in the Royal Welsh Intermediate final.
CP Wool Shearing Sports New Zealand UK Tour Test Series (20 sheep): Wales 96.9pts (Gwion Lloyd Evans 12min 31sec, 47.15pts; Richard Jones 13min 43sec, 49.75pts) beat New Zealand 99.9pts (Rowland Smith 13min 6sec, 49.85pts; John Kirkpatrick 13min 11sec, 50.5pts), by 3pts. Wales win the series 4-0.
Corwen Shears Open final (20 sheep): Matthew Evans (Wales) 12min 8sec, 47.4pts, 1; Rowland Smith (New Zealand) 12min 11sec, 47.7pts, 2; Gareth Daniel (Wales) 12min 42sec, 49.75pts, 3; Richard Jones (Wales) 13min 36sec, 50.3pts, 4; John Kirkpatrick (New Zealand) 12min 39sec, 54.6pts, 5; Gwion Lloyd Evans (Wales) 11min 55sec, 54.85pts, 6.
CP Wool Shearing Sports New Zealand UK Tour Wales Series (20 lambs): Wales 97.45pts (Gwion Evans 1min 56sec, 48.55pts; Richard Jones 12min 43sec, 48.9pts) beat New Zealand 101.45pts (Rowland Smith 11min 51sec, 49.7ptd; John Kirkpatrick 12min 5sec, 51.75pts) by 4pts. Wales leads 3-0.
Royal Welsh All-Nations Open final (20 lambs): Richard Jones (Wales) 14min 4sec, 54.45pts, 1; Matthew Evand (Wales) 12min 51sec, 56.2pts, 2; Gareth Daniel (Wales) 12min 45sec, 56.2pts, 3; Gwion Lloyd Evans (Wales) 12min 57sec, 56.9pts, 4; Matt Smith (New Zealand) 12min 19sec, 60.15pts, 5; John Kirkpatrick (New Zealand) 13min 3sec, 62.9pts, 6.
Source: Shearing Sports New Zealand.