A notable feature of the 2014 Golden Shears, concluded in Masterton over the weekend, was the success of overseas competitors.
Sure, it was a Kiwi in Rowland Smith who claimed the coveted open shearing title for the second successive year, and another Kiwi in Joel Henare who doubled up on his victory last year in the open woolhandling final, but when you look at the overall results list it has a clear international flavour to it.
The last day of competition on Saturday fell on St David's Day, so it was appropriate that a couple of Welsh shearers picked up that country's first two titles for 23 years at the world's most famous shearing event, less than an hour apart on that day.
Hefin Rowlands, 24, originally from Ruthin, took out the junior crown and Alun Lloyd Jones of Corwen prevailed in the intermediate championship.
For Rowlands, his victory was particularly sweet because, despite making several finals in his career, it was his first win - and he did it in style.
First off the board in the eight-sheep decider by 10secs, he had 1.745pts to spare on runner-up Tegwyn Bradley of Woodville when the end result was announced.
Jones, on the other hand, was no newcomer to the winner's dais. He won the junior titles at the Royal Welsh Show and the Corwen Shears two years ago and, like Rowlands, was first off the board in his final, 3secs ahead of another Welshman in Sion Lewis from Lampeter.
It was then an anxious wait as the quality points were added up and Jones won narrowly (45.518pts) from Gisborne's Bevan Pere (46.111pts).
The other big win for the overseas contingent came in the transtasman test between Australia and New Zealand. It was a cracker of a contest, with the Australian line-up of Daniel McIntyre, Shannon Warnest and Jason Wingfield shutting out the vociferous vocal support for the Kiwi squad of John Kirkpatrick, Rowland Smith and Dion Morrell and winning by almost 20pts. McIntyre provided the icing on the cake for the victors by being awarded the trophy for the best quality score by an individual competitor.
It wasn't all good news for the Aussies though. The woolhandling "test" was a rather one-sided affair, with the New Zealand team of Keryn Herbert and Tia Potae having 160pts to spare from Sarah Moran and Mel Morris.
From a purely local perspective, the woolpressing provided the main highlights. The men's final saw Vinnie Goodger of Masterton head off his brother Jeremy Goodger, the women's final produced a win for Fiona Christensen from Masterton over Carmen Smith of Pongoroa, the two Goodgers combined to win the men's pairs, and the triathlon event comprising shearing, woolhandling and pressing saw Vinnie Goodger first, Tane Matiaha of Masterton second and Carmen Smith third.
In the shearing, the effort of Pongoroa's David Buick to make the open final added spice and he did the region proud in placing sixth. Casey Bailey of Masterton was runner-up to Brett Roberts of Mataura in the senior final, an event in which Englishman Sam Bellingham was fifth, and Ririwai Fox of Masterton and Coby Kershaw of Martinborough were fifth and sixth respectively in the novice final, Jills Angus Burney from Featherston was sixth in the women's invitation event won by Emily Welch of Waikearetu, and Masterton duo Matene Mason and Peter Clendon were second in the Maori Pakeha teams event.
In the woolhandling, Carmen Smith (Pongoroa) and Tumanako Waikare (Masterton) were second and third respectively in the senior final, likewise Nikol Petuha (Masterton) and Kiriana Brown (Martinborough) in the junior final. The novice final was won by Masterton's Shaylyn Te Huia from two other Masterton competitors, Te Rangimarie Matiaha-Henare and Daryl Reiri, and Emma Braddick of Eketahuna was fourth in the North Island circuit open final.
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