New Zealand shearers and woolhandlers were off to a good start at the Royal Perth Show with three big wins on Saturday on the eve of three transtasman tests.
A New Zealand Merino Championships team of Southland shearers, Nathan Stratford and Troy Pyper won the first leg of a home-and-away merino series by beating the West Australia team of Damien Boyle and Luke Harding by just 0.68pts.
World champion Joel Henare of Gisborne, won the Royal Perth Open woolhandling final, while Tony Dobbs of Fairlie and Allen Gemmell of Rangiora, were first and second in the blade shearing final.
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The merino match was a particular triumph for Stratford ahead of yesterday's transtasman tests between New Zealand and Australia and the return match at the New Zealand Merino Championships which open the New Zealand season on Friday and Saturday.
Stratford finished the contest of 12 sheep each 1min 22sec after merino shearing guru Boyle but had by far the better quality points and led the way to the narrow and surprise win.
On Saturday Boyle won the Royal Perth open title, (his 22nd open title), in a final in which Pyper was fifth. Boyle will travel to Central Otago during the week to attempt to win the New Zealand Merino Championships open title for an eight time in nine years.
Henare, the 27-year-old 2012 and 2017 World champion, was in charge all day, heading the 24 competitors in the woolhandling heats and being top qualifier for the final. Runner-up was Australia-based New Zealander Aroha Garvin, who won the world title in South Africa in 2000.
Henare's New Zealand teammate and 2008 World champion Sheree Alabaster was third.
On Sunday, Stratford and Hawke's Bay shearers Rowland Smith and John Kirkpatrick took on the transtasman shearing test, Henare and Alabaster contested a transtasman woolhandling test, and Dobbs and Gemmell the blade shearing test.
Results from the Royal Perth Show shearing and woolhandling championships on Saturday, September 22:
Transtasman Merino Shearing (12 sheep): NZ Merino Champs 111.72pts (Nathan Stratford 19min 31sec, 48.783pts; Troy Pyper 18min 38sec, 62.933pts) beat West Australia 112.4pts (Damien Boyle 18min 9sec, 53.967pts; Luke Harding 21min 13sec, 58.433pts) by 0.68pts.
Royal Perth Open final (10 sheep): Damien Boyle (Tambellup, West Australia) 18min 31sec, 74.85pts, 1; Callum O'Brien 17min 11sec, 77.15pts, 2; Nathan Meaney (Kapunda, South Australia) 17min, 78.4pts, 3; Shannon Warnest (Willalooka, South Australia) 19min 39sec, 79.15pts, 4; Troy Pyper (Invercargill, NZ) 19min 33sec, 85.85pts, 5; Josh Bone (Nhill, Vic) 19min 2sec, 89pts, 6.
Royal Perth Blades final (3 sheep): Tony Dobbs (Fairlie, NZ) 12min 30sec, 71.633pts, 1; Allen Gemmell (Rangiora, NZ) 12min 3sec, 73.15pts, 2; Ken French (Glen Isla, Vic) 14min 25sec, 80.25pts, 3; Johnathon Dalla (Warooka, South Australia) 17min 43sec, 99.817pts, 4; Mal Griffiths (-) 19min 12sec, 100.933pts, 5; Andrew Murray (Wellington, NSW) 19min 56sec, 102.8pts, 6.
Royal Perth Open final: Joel Henare (NZ) 33.03pts, 1; Aroha Garvin (Aus) 49.8pts, 2; Sheree Alabaster (NZ) 51.8pts, 3; Kelly Moir (Aus) 56.1pts, 4.