Waipawa shearer Cam Ferguson may just about be the best second placegetter around.
After a dramatic New Zealand championships open final on Saturday night, Ferguson claimed another crack at the world title he won in Wales nine years ago.
Despite losing a sheep off the front of the board and having to haul it back onto the stage midway through the 20-sheep final, the 35-year-old Ferguson won a close contest to secure second place behind winner and fellow Hawke's Bay gun Rowland Smith.
Smith had already secured his place at the 2019 World Championships in France in July, by winning a sixth Golden Shears Open four weeks earlier.
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Ferguson thus completed the make-up of the Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling Team, with Smith, woolhandlers Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, and Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape, and blade shearers Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, and Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine.
The team, with major sponsorship from Allflex confirmed during the week, will be managed by Ken Payne, of Balclutha.
As expected, going for a 17th win in a row since mid-January, Smith won comfortably, with a margin of 1.651pts to Ferguson.
But with 0.668pts covering 2nd to 5th, Ferguson claimed the second World Championships singlet by just 0.196pts from third placegetter and Wairarapa farmer David Buick, the only one of the six finalists not to have won a world title.
Reigning world teams champions Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, and individual world titleholder John Kirpatrick, of Napier, were 4th and 6th respectively, split by 2012 world champion, Taranaki farmer and Scotland international Gavin Mutch.
Ferguson, 35, is best known for his winning the 2010 World title in Wales, beating teammate and shearing legend David Fagan, now Sir David Fagan.
He battled a back injury to qualify for the right to defend the title in Masterton two years later, when he was runner-up, with just 0.068pts standing between him and a second title.
Again Ferguson has overcome the odds, since breaking two bones in a game of touch football in late 2015.
A couple of months later his eldest daughter was badly injured in a work van crash, and he's also since had to grapple with the complexities of being a working solo-dad and getting a family shearing business under way.
The winner of more than 40 open finals, including the 2010 Golden Shears which set him on the path to the win in Wales, he has shorn 11 finals since the twin hits to the family in the summer of 2015-2016, for just one win at Mayfield, in the South Island, two years ago.
The first pointer to his new goal came when he was runner-up in the PGG Wrightson Wool National Circuit final on merinos, crossbred ewes and lambs in Masterton on March 2 and as winner of the New Zealand Speedshear Championship at the Rural Games in Palmerston North a week later.
In terms of shearing competition at the top level the two events could not have been more different, but each showed the characteristic gutsy confidence which again carried him home last night, overshadowing the efforts of Smith, who was winning the New Zealand open title for a 4th time in a row, and a 7th time in the last eight finals.
As a spectacle, Ferguson's mid-event wrestle aside, it came down to a race between Mutch and Buick on stands 4 and 5, Mutch finishing first in 15min 48.94sec and beating Buick by less than five seconds.
The 32-year-old Smith, who had also won the North Island Shearer of the Year final on Friday night, was next to finish, in 16min 8.55sec, and had clearly the better points in judging on the board, although Stratford had the best quality points overall.
Ferguson kept it together, 4th to finish, with 2nd-best board points both on the board and in the pens.
Stratford derived some consolation for missing out on a place at the world championships by successfully defending the New Zealand Shears Circuit title and winning a trip to the Northern Hemisphere.
Alabaster and Karauria, who won their world championships woolhandling places in a selection series which finished at the Golden Shears, were first and second respectively in Saturday's New Zealand open woolhandling final.
Schoolteacher Alabaster successfully defending the title and claiming the championships for a 9th time in 16 years.
It was a true showdown among five competitors who just happened to be the top five open woolhandlers throughout the season, as shown in the national rankings headed by dual world and multiple Golden Shears and New Zealand champion Joel Henare, of Gisborne.
With Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti, claiming third place, 2010 and 2015-2017 winner Henare had to settle for 4th place, beating fifth finalist Chelsea Collier, of Gore.
It was Alabaster's 7th win this season, but Henare's 10 wins helped him to claim the No 1 season's ranking for a 4th time in a row and 8th time since 2008.
Masterton shearer David Gordon, who won the shears' intermediate shearing title in 2013 won Saturday night's senior final, guaranteeing that after nine wins during the season, including 4 in A-grade events, he will be promoted to open-class.
Results from the Zealand Shears shearing and woolhandling championships at Te Kuiti on Thursday-Saturday, March 26-28, 2019:
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 16min 8.55sec, 54.678pts, 1; Cam Ferguson (Waipawa) 16min 30.58sec, 56.329pts, 2; David Buick (Pongaroa) 3; 15min 53.5sec, 56.525pts, 3; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 16min 55.44sec, 56.822pts, 4; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Whangamomona) 15min 48.94sec, 56.997pts, 5; John Kirkpatrick (Napier/Pakipaki) 16min 37.33sec, 57.567pts, 6.
New Zealand Shears Open Circuit final (5 merinos, 5 second-shear strongwool, 5 lambs): Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 19min 19.42sec, 73.028pts, 1; John Kirkpatrick (Napier) 18min 35.26sec, 75.963pts, 2; Mark Grainger (Te Kuiti) 18min 20.15sec, 77.608pts, 3; Leon Samuels (Ohai) 17min 58.46sec, 77.857pts, 4; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 18min 34.54sec, 81.927pts, 5; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 21min 51.73sec, 84.92pts, 6.
North Island Shearer of the Year final (10 ewes, 10 lambs): Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 15min 51.63sec, 53.932pts, 1; David Buick (Pongaroa) 15min 50.21sec, 55.561pts, 2; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Whangamomona) 16min 1.85sec, 57.343pts, 3; Aaron Haynes (Feilding) 17min 6.28sec, 57.664pts, 4; John Kirkpatrick (Napier) 16min 6.24sec, 58.562pts, 5; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 18min 0.27sec, 60.664pts, 6.
Open Plate (10 sheep): Mark Grainger (Te Kuiti) 8min 42.94sec, 37.34pts, 1; Pete Chilcott (Whananaki/Napier) 9min 33.69sec, 37.58pts, 2; Casey Bailey (Riverton) 9min 18.48sec, 48.02pts, 3; Aaron Haynes (Feilding) 8min 44.86sec, 38.24pts, 4; James Fagan (Te Kuiti/Raglan) 9min 46sec, 40.7pts, 5; Digger Balme (Te Kuiti) 7min 42.85sec, 60.04pts, 6.
Open Challenger (10 sheep): Marshall Guy (Kaeo) 9min 13.7sec, 39.785pts, 1; Axle Reid (Taihape) 10min 25.27sec, 39.964pts, 2; Hemi Braddick (Eketahuna) 9min 33.14sec, 41.257pts, 3; Darren Alexander (Whangamomona/Havelock North) 10min 23.34sec, 42.467pts, 4; Willy McSkimming (Taumarunui) 9min 56.6sec, 43.53pts, 5; Dylan McGruddy (Masterton) 9min 41.27sec, 45.764pts, 6.
Senior final (12 sheep): David Gordon (Masterton) 13min 24.71sec, 50.569pts 1; Jade Maguire Ratima (Winton) 12min 42.25sec, 51.779pts, 2; Alex Smith (Rakaia) 13min 22.51sec, 51.876pts, 3; Jayden Mainland (Wellsford) 13min 27.67sec, 51.967pts, 4; Lionel Taumata (Taumarunui/Gore) 12min 53.79sec, 52.273pts, 5; Willy Tahere (Taumarunui) 13min 32.56sec, 52.795pts, 6.
Intermediate final (8 sheep): Kyle Mita (Masterton) 10min 45.2sec, 40.01pts, 1; Paora Moanaroa (Eketahuna) 11min 2.12sec, 41.356pts, 2; Chris Dickson (Masterton) 11min 24.81sec, 43.241pts, 3; Mitchell Menzies (Ranfurly) 11min 35.79sec, 43.915pts, 4; Liam Pritchard (Pongaroa) 11min 14.92sec, 44.246pts, 5; Daniel Biggs (Mangamahu) 11min 54.58sec, 44.979pts, 6.
Junior final (5 sheep): Henry Mayo (Dorset, England) 8min 15.7sec, 34.185pts, 1; Atawhai Hadfield (Ruakituri) 9min 31.93ec, 35.597pts, 2; Topia Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 10min 3.08sec, 40.354spts, 3; Ben Forrester (Leithfield) 9min 4.14sec, 41.007pts, 4; Blake Crooks (Wellington) 9min 14.91sec, 43.146pts, 5; Levi King (Motu) 10min 56.74sec, 49.037pts, 6.
Novice final (2 sheep): Jesse McIntyre (Hastings) 8min 37.17sec, 34.359pts, 1; Gus Berger (Ahuroa) 8min 29.76sec, 35.488pts, 2; Devon Ball (Te Kuiti) 8min 33.33sec, 37.667pts, 3; Renee Biggs (Mangamahu) 10min 39sec, 40.45pts, 4; Keahrey Manson (Piopio) 9min 52.97sec, 41.149pts, 5; Michael Buick (Pongaroa) 10min 17.91sec, 45.896pts, 6.
Women's final (8 sheep): Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 11min 10.42sec, 44.146pts, 1; Emily Welch (Waikaretu) 11min 20.85sec, 45.168pts, 2; Laura Bradley (Woodville) 12min 13.74sec, 47.062pts, 3; Ingrid Smith (Maraekakaho) 12min 36.7sec, 49.46pts, 4; Pauline Bolay (Canada) 12min 27.26sec, 50,613pts, 5; Jills Angus Burney (Masterton) 11min 32.72sec, 54.261pts, 6.
Transtasman (4 merinos, 4 second-shear strongwool)): New Zealand Shears (Mark Grainger 11min 52.76sec, 56.638pts; Gavin Mutch 11min 10.85sec, 56.668pts; Ricci Stevens 13min 52.94sec, 66.397pts) 179.703pts beat Warrnambool, Vic (Roger Mifsud 13min 10.10sec, 63.755pts; Vaughan Clutterbuck 12min 53.13sec, 65.282pts; Dion Morrell 11min 13.16sec, 66.033pts) 195.07pts.
Development teams relay (5 sheep): King Country Circuit (Cory Barrowcliffe/Matthew Smith) 8min 26.24sec, 33.512pts, 1; King Country Circuit (Daniel Biggs/Rakai Barrett) 9min 17.1sec, 40.255pts, 2; North Canterbury-Marlborough Circuit (Ben Forrester/Mitchell Menzies) 8min 42.89sec, 40.545pts, 3; North Canterbury-Marlborough Circuit Henry Mayo, Brayden Clifford) 9min 25.34sec, 41.26pts, 4.
Open final: Sheree Alabaster (Taihape) 51.374pts, 1; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 62.686pts, 2; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 68.226pts, 3; Joel Henare (Gisborne) 85.808pts, 4; Chelsea Collier (Gore) 88.688pts, 5.
Senior final: Ngaira Puha (Kimbolton) 72.78pts, 1; Ricci Stevens (Napier) 84.25pts, 2; Tyler Hira (Onewhero) 88.41pts, 3; Lucky Garrett (Eketahuna) 99.5pts, 4; Gina Whare (Taumarunui) 132.79pts, 5.
Junior final: Vinnie Phillips (Taumarunui) 68.25pts, 1; Lucas Broughton (Whanganui) 71.22pts, 2; Cortez Ostler (Dannevirke) 81.344pts, 3; Teanna Phillips (Taumarunui) 88.13pts, 4; Savvy Taitoko (Piopio) 104.72pts, 5.
Interisland shearing and woolhandling: North Island (shearers Rowland Smith, John Kirkpatrick, David Buick; woolhandlers Sheree Alabaster, Keryn Herbert, Eramiha Neho) 205.5pts beat South Island (shearers Leon Samuels, Nathan Stratford, Casey Bailey; woolhandlers Pagan Karauria, Monica Potae, Joel Henare) 221.5pts.