Southland shearer Brett Roberts strengthened his hopes of a place among the elite at the Golden Shears next month when he won the Otago Shears open final in Balclutha on Saturday.
Competing on one of his favourite stages, the 24-year-old Roberts completed a clean sweep of wins across the grades in Balclutha over the last 10 years, and beat four national representatives in the 20-sheep final.
Reigning World Champion John Kirkpatrick was second, and teams champion partner Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill was third.
Fourth and fifth respectively were Troy Pyper, of Invercargill, and Wairarapa farmer David Buick, both national transtasman series representatives.
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Roberts' win, by just over a point, came three weeks after his first A-grade open win, at the Northern Southland Community Shears near Lumsden.
He won two Golden Shears titles in Masterton, in the junior grade in 2010 and senior in 2014, but is yet to make the Shears' open semi-finals in four attempts. His best placings were 15th in the Top 30 quarter final shootout last year and 27th in 2016.
He just missed the cut on the other two occasions.
He has however, the unprecedented record of having won in all four grades at Balclutha, now a total of six wins from the junior title in 2010, intermediate in 2011, the senior title three times consecutively in 2012, 2013, and 2014, and the latest triumph.
He has served the open-class apprenticeship patiently, reaching the 20-sheep final for the first time last year and finishing fifth, a pointer to yesterday's win.
Having also had a win in good company at the West Otago show in November, he says ultimately it's all about the big event in Masterton in three weeks' time.
"I've been there every year since I was 13," he said "I am preparing all season just for the Goldies."
The major name missing on Saturday was Hawke's Bay shearer and 2014 World Champion Rowland Smith, who was at the same time winning the Te Puke A and P Show title, his eighth win in an unbeaten three-week run since resuming at the Wairoa A and P Show last month.
Smith is gunning for a 6th Golden Shears open title on March 2 in Masterton, to secure a place at this year's World Championships in France.
Another making a bee-line for the World Championships is reigning woolhandling champion Joel Henare, who at Balclutha won the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year Open title for a 10th time, and 5th time in a row.
Also winning the South Island Circuit final, he's won four in a row, after a Rangitikei Shearing Sports win at Marton the previous Saturday, and a new competition at the Aria Waitangi Day Sports, and is favoured to win the Golden Shears title again, and a World Team Selection Series final on the same day.
The Otago championships were also a triumph for Southland-based Destiny Paikea, originally from Northland and who won the junior shearing final and was runner-up in the Woolhandler of the year junior final.
The Elers family from Mataura was also amongst it, with 2017 World Championships Cook Islands representative, Maiden Elers winning the Senior Woolhandler of the Year title, Krome Elers the Junior title, and Nova Kumeroa Elers being runner-up in the South Island Woolhandling Circuit Senior final.
Meanwhile, the CP Wool New Zealand Shearing team of Buick and Stratford had a comfortable second test-match win over Wales.
RESULTS from the Otago Shears at Balclutha on Friday-Saturday February 8-9, 2019:
CP Wool International Series Second Test (12 sheep): New Zealand 106.0708pts (David Buick 13min 48.35sec, 53.0008pts; Nathan Stratford 14min 59.12sec, 53.706pts) beat Wales 105.505pts (Lloyd Rees 13min 95.16sec, 62.258pts; Aled Jones 14min 54.94sec, 63.247pts) by 18.8342pts. New Zealand lead the series 2-0. The Third test is at the Southern Shears in Gore on February 16.
Open final (20 sheep): Brett Roberts (Mataura) 18min 29.35sec, 62.4175pts, 1; John Kirkpatrick (Napier) 18min 53.94sec, 63.447pts, 2; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 19min 45.69sec, 64.2845pts, 3; Troy Pyper (Invercargill) 18min 20.09sec, 64.9545pts, 4; David Buick (Pongaroa) 19min 54.19sec, 66.1595pts, 5.
Senior final (10 sheep): David Gordon (Masterton) 11min 31.5sec, 42.275pts, 1; Brandon Maguire Ratima (Winton) 11min 56.55sec, 42.3275pts, 2; Jade Maguire Ratima (Winton) 11min 46.63sec,42.8315pts, 3; Barney Cummings (Pleasant Point) 11min 58.32sec, 44.916pts, 4; Alex Smith (Rakaia) 11min 38.81sec, 45.2405pts, 5.
Intermediate final (6 sheep): Tyson Crown (Mataura) 10min 39.87sec, 37.3268pts, 1; John Cherrington 10min 31.12sec, 40.3893pts, 2; Stacey Whitu (Gore) 10min 0.4sec, 41.3533pts, 3; Brayden Clifford (Gore) 10min 31.41sec, 41.4038pts, 4; James Dickson (Gore) 11min 52.5sec, 48.125pts, 5.
Junior final (4 sheep): Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 11min 24.34sec, 40.217pts, 1; Katie Reid (Scotland) 10min 4.65sec, 40.9825pts, 2; Lexi Phillips (Hamilton) 10min 26.75sec, 45.3375pts, 3; Jimmy Napier (Gore) 11min 1.5sec, 49.825pts, 4; Wiremu Pewhairangi (Mataura) 10min 10.88sec, 56.544pts, 5.
New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year:
Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne) 145.82pts, 1; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 225.506pts, 2; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 288.25pts, 3; Monica Potae (Milton/Kennedy Bay) 390.38pts, 4.
Senior final: Maiden Elers (Mataura) 161.524pts, 1; Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 193.69pts, 2; Natalie Collier (Gore) 219.956pts, 3; Tyle Hira (Onewhero) 335.44pts, 4.
Junior final: Krome Elers (Mataura) 122.84pts, 1; Amber Poihipi (Ohai) 143.15pts, 2; Makayla Crawfod (-) 158.34pts, 3; Samantha Allan (Balclutha) 162pts, 4.
South Island Circuit:
Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne) 89.424pts, 1; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 109.206pts, 2; Candy Hiri (Gore) 141.684pts, 3.
Senior final: Tyler Hira (Onewhero) 109.77pts, 1; Nova Kumeroa Elers (Mataura) 136.224pts, 2; Natalie Collier (Gore) 174.374pts, 3.
Junior final: Heaven Little (Balclutha) 106.06pts, 1; Amber Poihipi (Ohai) 108.63pts, 2; Sunnii Te Whare (Ohai) 137.87pts, 3.