Hawke's Bay shearer Rowland Smith's domination of New Zealand's world-class shearing elite continued when he had his 40th New Zealand finals win in a row at the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.
His successful defence of the Northern Shears Open title was his 44th win in 46 competitions in New Zealand in the last 15 months, during which the only deviations from the picket-fence form-line were a fourth placing at the Rotorua A and P Show on January 29 last year and a semi-final elimination at the Tauranga A and P Show on January 14 this year.
On Saturday he staved-off a bold challenge from Southland shearer Brett Roberts to win by half-a-point in a five-man final of 20 sheep each, decided mainly by the six seconds margin at the end and the quality of the sharing in the race, in front of the unique Auckland crowd mixing the normality for the farming and shearing community with the intrigue of the city dweller and the phone and camera waving tourist throng.
Smith shore the 20 sheep in 15min 44sec and had the better points in board judging, each worth a three-tenths of a point buffer.
But Roberts, a former Golden Shears Junior and Senior champion with just two wins in four seasons in the Open class, had marginally the better points in pen-judging afterwards.
Third place went to Manawatu shearer Murray Henderson, who has shorn in 12 finals this season and three of the last four Golden Shears Open finals.
But he's had only two wins in 22 seasons of Open-class shearing, highlighting both the plight and the commitment of top-class shearers having to settle in the shadow of such plific winners Smith, reigning World champion John Kirkpatrick and now-retired former World champions David Fagan and Paul Avery over the years.
In-form shearers also dominated the Senior and Intermediate finals in Auckland, Golden Shears Senior champion Tegwyn Bradley, of Woodville, scoring his 13th win of the season, and Daniel Seed, also of Woodville, his 11th, in a successful return to the stage where he had his first Intermediate win a year ago.
Taihape teenager Reuben Alabaster took the Junior title, his fifth win this season.
Results from the Royal Easter Show's Northern Shears in Auckland on Friday-Saturday, March 30-31, 2018:
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 15min 44sec, 57.25pts, 1; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 15min 50sec, 57.75pts, 2; Murray Henderson (Halcombe) 15min 59sec, 60.2pts, 3; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 16min 4sec, 60.3pts, 4; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 16min 13sec, 61.7pts, 5.
Senior final (10 sheep): Tegwyn Bradley (Woodville) 10min 19sec, 41.85pts, 1; Lionel Taumata (Taumarunui/Gore) 10min 31sec, 44.35pts, 2; Sean Gouk (Hamilton/Masterton) 11min 59sec, 49.15pts, 3; James Lowry (Glen Murray) 11min 51sec, 49.15pts, 4; Dan Berger (Ahuroa) 11min 52sec, 50.1pts, 5.
Intermediate final (6 sheep): Daniel Seed (Woodville) 7min 35sec, 32.95pts, 1; Quentin Chase (Taihape) 7min 16sec, 33.33ptss, 2; Alan Boler (Wellsford) 7min 16sec, 33.967pts, 3; Steven Hakaraia (Napier) 7min 11sec, 35.217pts, 4; Liam Lowry (Glen Murray) 8min 17sec, 37.017pts, 5. .
Junior final (4 sheep): Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 6min 18sec, 29.4pts, 1; Liam Pritchard (Pongaroa) 6min 54sec, 30.55pts, 2; Topia Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 9min 17sec, 36.6sec, 3; Matthew Smith (Otorohanga) 9min 15sec, 40pts, 4; Danielle Boyd (Dargaville) 12min 14sec, 50.7pts, 5.
Novice final (2 sheep): Heath Barnsdall (Piopio) 8min 39sec, 44.45pts, 1; William Titford (Puhoi) 6min 25sec, 44.75pts, 2; Michaela Lowry (Glen Murray) 9min 2sec, 50.6sec, 3; Samantha Baxter (Pongaroa) 8min 14sec, 53.2pts, 4; Gus Berger (Ahuroa) 11min 32sec, 55.1pts, 5.
Veterans (3 sheep): Peter McCabe (Tauranga) 4min 18sec, 26.567pts, 1; Neil Sidwell (Kaukapakapa) 3min 42sec, 36.767pts, 2; Jeff Wood (Ruawai) 4min 47sec, 31.017pts, 3; Phil O'Shaughnessy (Whangarei) 5min 17sec, 39.85pts, 4; Russell Knight (Apiti) 4min 21sec, 40.05pts, 5.
Inter-Island Invitation (12 sheep): North Island 87.283pts (Floyd Neil 10min 25sec, 45.833pts; Axle Reid 10min 24sec, 41.45pts) beat South Island 92.017pts (Brett Roberts 10min 35sec, 44.167pts; Matt Tumohe 10min 37sec, 47.85pts).