The New Zealand shearing team of Southlander Nathan Stratford and Wairarapa farmer David Buick have kept their country's unbeaten record against Wales in New Zealand alive, with a resounding win in Marton in the opening match of the CP Wool Series during the weekend.
The pair beat the under-strength Welsh team of Lloyd Rees and Aled Jones by more than 28pts at the start of a four-test series in which the Kiwis are warm favourites for a clean sweep, bouncing back from a 3-1 series loss in Wales last July.
The latest win came at the Rangitikei Shearing Sports on Saturday, when World Championships hopefuls Rowland Smith, of Hastings, and Joel Henare, of Gisborne, won the major open finals.
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The win reinforced their dominance of shearing and woolhandling respectively ahead of their bids for selection in the New Zealand team for this year's world event in Le Dorat, Central France, in July.
Smith had back-to-back wins in the open shearing finals at the Dannevirke A and P Show on Friday and then at Marton on Saturday.
This success repeated similar efforts at Wairoa and Levin a fortnight earlier, and at Taihape and Rotorua last week.
Reigning world champion woolhandler Henare also enjoyed a double win at Dannevirke and Marton on Friday and Saturday.
Henare will be out to claim a shot at defending the big title when a selection series final is held at the Golden Shears in Masterton next month.
Major results from shearing sports events on Friday and Saturday:
Rangitikei Shearing Sports at Marton on Saturday, February 2, 2019:
First CP Wool Test (20 sheep): New Zealand 125.812pts (Nathan Stratford 16min 2.4sec, 62.058pts; David Buick 15min 6.32sec, 63.754pts) beat Wales 154.066pts (Lloyd Rees 15min 23.4sec, 72.358pts; Aled Jones 17min 15.4sec, 76.708pts). The second test will be at the Otago Shears in Balclutha on Friday.
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Hastings) 17min 3.06sec, 59.553pts, 1; Cam Ferguson (Waipawa) 17min 5sec, 62.55pts, 2; David Buick (Pongaroa) 18min 5.87sec, 63.494pts, 3; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 19min 4sec, 64.802pts, 4; Murray Henderson (Halcombe) 18min 37.18sec, 65.459pts, 5; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Whangamomona) 18min 37.29sec, 65.615pts, 6.
Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne) 74.43pts, 1; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 77.72pts, 2; Brittany Tibble (Gisborne) 94.59pts, 4; Monica Potae (Milton) 109.66pts, 5; Eramiho Neho (Dannevirke) 122.72pts, 6.
Dannevirke A and P Show shearing and woolhandling championships on Friday, February 1, 2019:
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Hastings) 15min 38sec, 53.73pts, 1; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 17min 27sec, 62.07pts, 2; Hemi Braddick (Eketahuna) 16mins, 64.06pts, 3; Darren Alexander (Whangamomona/Havelock North) 18min 23sec, 68.65pts, 4.
Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne) 32.53pts, 1; Sheree Alabaster (Taihape) 40.59pts, 2; Eramiha Neho (Dannevirke) 41.37pts, 3.