Organisers of the shearing championships at the Tauranga A&P; Show over the weekend had always planned to make a presentation in recognition of a quarter century of support by Golden Shears regular Digger Balme of Te Kuiti - but never thought it would include the winning cheque.
That's the way it was, however, after Balme's surprise win in the show's 15-lamb pen final over his driver for the day, Mr Golden Shears himself, David Fagan, who won his 17th New Zealand lambshearing title in Raglan a fortnight ago.
It was a rare moment for 48-year-old Balme to pip 51-year-old Fagan on time and quality as the pair beat young hopes Mark Grainger, of Te Kuiti, and Hastings-based Northlander Doug Smith, the Invitation team members who had earlier beaten Welshmen Gareth Lloyd Evans and Richard Jones in the show's feature international teams event.
Balme shore the 15 lambs in 12min 16.1s, beating Fagan by 3s, and had the better board judging and pen quality points, ultimately winning by 1.7 points to claim a winning cheque of $700, in addition to the bottle of wine presented by Shearing Sports New Zealand life member and competition organiser Hugh McCarroll, of Tauranga.
The lower grade finals provided a clean sweep for the Guy family, from Kaeo, Northland. Bryce Guy won the senior final, Charlie Guy the intermediate final, and Marshall Guy the junior final, while elder brother Bevan had to withdraw from the open semifinals because of injury.
The Tauranga event was one of two shearing competitions in the North Island on Saturday, with 2010 Golden Shears and world champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa, scoring an important win in the open event at the Wairoa A&P; Show.
With Dannevirke shearers Adam Brausch and Ringa Paewai, he will tackle a world three-stand eight-hours lambshearing record next week. Brausch also had success at the weekend, winning the Tauranga Open Plate.
David Gordon of Masterton won the intermediate shearing final at Wairoa and Hemi Braddick of Eketahuna was second in the senior final.