Shearing giant Rowland Smith moved to the brink of a 150th open final win when he claimed the Waimarino Shears title for an 8th time in nine years on Saturday.
It was win number 149 for the 32-year-old Hawke's Bay shearer who is in his 13th season of open-class shearing and who, after a successful breeze through the lowers grades, had his first open victory in January 2008 at Kaikohe.
He has had 14 wins in a row since starting the new year with a win at Wairoa on January 19, including gaining a place in this year's World Championships by winning a 6th Golden Shears open title.
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Smith won by almost 5pts, with a big buffer of 4pts from the pen judging, after being beaten in the race for fastest time by Masterton shearer and new PGG Wrightson Wool National Circuit champion Paerata Abraham, who shore the 20 sheep in 16min 41 sec.
Smith finished 7 seconds later, with a further 12 seconds to 2012 World title winner, Scotland international and Taranaki farmer Gavin Mutch.
Napier shearer Ricci Stevens continued his response to missing a place in the Golden Shears senior final by winning his second title in the two outings since.
He had a half-minute advantage over Golden Shears winner Connor Puha, of Kimbolton, and ultimately won the event by half-a-point.
Chris Dickson, of Masterton, climbed into New Zealand championships contention by winning the intermediate final, while Northern Hawke's Bay shearer Atawhai Hadfield did likewise by claiming another junior title.
Results from the Waimarino Shears at Raetihi on Saturday, March 16, 2019:
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 16min 48sec, 57.95pts, 1; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Whangamomona) 17min, 62.75pts, 2; Murray Henderson (Halcombe) 17min 41sec, 64.3pts, 3; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 16min 43sec, 72pts, 4.
Senior final (10 sheep): Ricci Stevens (Napier) 11min 7sec, 42.95pts, 1; Connor Puha (Kimbolton) 11min 37sec, 43.45pts, 2; Simon Goss (Kimbolton/Mangamahu) 12min 35sec, 44.35pts, 3; Sean Gouk (Masterton) 12min 47sec, 52.65pts, 4.
Intermediate final (8 sheep): Chris Dickson (Masterton) 10min 30sec, 42.25pts, 1; Kyle Mita (Masterton) 11min 30sec, 53.5pts, 2; Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 11min 19sec, 43.575pts, 3; Daniel Biggs (Mangamahu) 12min 45sec, 44.825pts, 4.
Junior final (4 sheep): Atawhai Hadfield (Ruakituri) 7min 14sec, 31.45pts, 1; Topia Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 7min 13sec, 32.65pts, 2; Matthew Smith (Otorohanga) 9min 10sec, 36.75pts, 3; Levi King (Motu) 7min 56sec, 40.05pts, 4.