New Zealand has reinforced its new place as world blade shearing champions by keeping an unbeaten transtasman record with a win over Australia at the Waimate Shears New Zealand Spring Shearing and Woolhandling Championships on Saturday night.
Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine, and Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, who won the world title for New Zealand for the first time in France in July, beat fellow World Championships finalists John Dalla, of Warooka, SA, and Ken French, of Glen Isla, Vic., by a wide margin of more than 24 points in a contest of three sheep each.
But despite the defeat the pair are keen to continue the matches, and look forward to the second-leg of the annual home and away series at the end of November in Dubbo, NSW.
Part of a flourishing blades shearing competition renaissance in Australia, the 59-year-old French and Dalla, a veteran of 12 years' international competition despite being aged just 30, both said there are now young blades shearers keen to get into the national sides they've dominated as a pair since 2014.
"It is good to come here and learn from these blokes. They are the best blades shearers in the world" said French.
There was however a major surprise on the night when 12 times Waimate blades champion Dobbs and new world individual champion Oldfield were both beaten in the shears' open blades final by 2012 World Championships New Zealand representative Mike McConnell, of Waikari.
Dobbs had won the title every year since McConnell scored his third win in the event in 2013.
Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford retained the Waimate open machine shearing title – his 10th in the event, just one less than the 11 won by multiple World, Golden Shears and New Zealand champion Sire David Fagan between 1984 and 2012.
But it was close on Saturday night with Stratford relying on his legendary quality for victory after being fourth to finish a showdown of 16 sheep each in which just over three points separated the six finalists.
The runner-up was Manawatu shearer Aaron Haynes, still seeking his second open win, and third was Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, who was first finished in 16min 45.56sec – 25 seconds clear of the next man off.
Alexandra woolhandler Pagan Karauria won the open woolhandling final, the first of two big goals for the season.
Karauria had retained her New Zealand Merino Shears open title in her home town as the season started a week beforehand.
"I have a lot of goals. But I haven't won at Waimate before, and I haven't won the Golden Shears Open" she said.
The runner-up was Amy-Lee Ferguson, from Invercargill, while third was Foonie Waihape, of Alexandra, who had a particularly busy day winning Waimate's first women's shearing final and runner-up in the junior shearing final, which was won by Jack Gordon, of Timaru.
The senior shearing final won by Brandon Maguire-Ratima, of Winton, included a unique appearance by a sister and brother from Marlborough, shearing contractor Sarah Higgins placing fourth and brother Duncan Higgins sixth.
The intermediate final was won by Mitchell Menzies, of Ranfurly, after a post-presentation reversal of placings because of a time recording error which saw Brayden Clifford, of Gore, relegated to second place.
Golden Shears junior woolhandling champion Sunni Te Whare, of Ohai, had her first senior woolhandling win, while Heaven Little, of Balclutha, won the junior woolhandling final.