Te Kuiti shearer Mark Grainger got a significant confidence boost when he won the open final at the Ohura Sports Shears last week.
Grainger won by a tenth-of-a-point from former World and Golden Shears Champion, Scotsman and Whangamomona farmer Gavin Mutch.
Mutch was the most-favoured competitor to stop New Zealand taking a third world individual title in a row at this year's World Championships in France.
Mutch won the race, finishing the 15 sheep in 13min 4 sec and beating Grainger by 26 seconds, but the King Country gun had clearly the best quality in the pen-judging.
Read more shearing articles here.
The Ohura Shears attracted a strong field of 15, among 50 shearers across the four grades, despite missing such shearers as Hawke's Bay's reigning Golden Shears champion and 2017 World Champion Rowland Smith and reigning World Champion John Kirkpatrick.
Both Smith and Kirkpatrick were at the Southern Shears in Gore.
All three other finals were fought-out by leading hopes for the Golden Shears which will take place in Masterton this Thursday.
Alex Smith, of Rakai, won by almost 2pts from Napier's Ricci Stevens in the senior final, former Golden Shears junior champion Mark Ferguson, of Elsthorpe, won by 0.75pts from Mangamahu Valley shearer Daniel Biggs in the intermediate final, and Topia Barrowcliffe, of Piopio, won the junior final by tenth of a point from prolific winner Atawhai Hadfield, of Ruakituri.
It was a busy three days of shearing this past weekend, with the Taumarunui Shears on Friday, the Apiti Sports Shears on Saturday and the Pahiatua Shears yesterday.
RESULTS from the Ohura Sports Shears on Saturday, February 16, 2019:
Open final (15 sheep): Mark Grainger (Te Kuiti) 13min 30sec, 47.7667pts, 1; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Whangamomona) 13min 4sec, 47.8667pts, 2; James Ruki (Te Kuiti) 15min 8sec, 53.8667pts, 3; Darren Alexander (Whangamomona/Havelock North) 15min 11sec, 54.4833pts, 4.
Senior final (10 sheep): Alex Smith (Rakaia) 12min 26sec, 46.1pts, 1; Ricci Stevens (Napier) 11min 11sec, 48.05pts, 2; Jayden Mainland (Wellsford) 11min 56sec, 50.3pts, 3; Flynn Harvey 11min 31sec, 50.35pts, 4.
Intermediate final (5 sheep): Mark Ferguson (Elsthorpe) 8min 21sec, 32.65pts, 1; Daniel Biggs (Mangamahu Valley) 7min 36sec, 33.4pts, 2; Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 8min 3sec, 33.55pts, 3; Mitchell Menzies (Amberley) 8min 12sec, 33.8pts, 4.
Junior final (3 sheep): Topia Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 6min 44sec, 20.8667pts, 1; Atawhai Hadfield (Ruakituri) 6min 6sec, 20.9667pts, 2; Levi King (Gisborne) 6min 54sec, 24.3667pts, 3; Mathew Smith (Otorohanga) 7min 45sec, 26.25pts, 4.