The CP Wool New Zealand shearing team of Rowland Smith and David Buick has broken a long-standing drought by completing a 3-1 win in the Agrimin test series against Wales in Wales.
The triumph, completing New Zealand's first shearing tests series win over Wales in Wales in eight years, came at the Corwen Shears in North Wales about 9am today New Zealand time as the pair were announced fourth-test winners by 1.1pts over the Welsh stars, new World champion Richard Jones and World teams final runner-up partner Alun Lloyd Jones.
Hawke's Bay-based from Northland shearer Smith and fellow farmer Buick, of Pongaroa, Northern Wairarapa, had opened the series with two wins last weekend at Cothi and Lampeter over Welsh shearers Aled Jones and Lloyd Rees, whom Buick and Southland shearer Nathan Stratford had beaten at Corwen last year and 4-0 in a series in New Zealand earlier in the year.
The two Jones' won their ways back into the team at the Royal Welsh Show midweek and won the third test to set the scene for the classic match at Corwen.
The black-singlet victory was part of a big day for New Zealand at the glamour Welsh event, with Smith also winning the Corwen Shears Open final, and new World champion blade shearer Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine, successfully defending the Corwen Shears Open blades title.
While New Zealand has not been beaten by Wales in a shearing test in New Zealand, it had not won any of the annual series' in Wales since 2011, when Smith, on his first tour after winning the first of now seven New Zealand Shears Open titles, joined fellow Hawke's Bay shearer Dion King on an identical winning path of test wins at Cothi and Lampeter, a loss at the Royal Welsh Show and a victory at Corwen.
Shearing in all four tests for Wales on that tour was multiple Welsh champion Gareth Daniel, with Richard Jones making his Wales-New Zealand international debut in the Royal Welsh Show victory.
Today Smith and Buick waged a frenzied battle chasing Llangollen shearer Alun Lloyd Jones for time honours, which the Welshman won in completing the job in 12min 38sec, Buick next in 12min 52sec just pipping his teammate.
A feature was the combination of Buick producing the best result in judging on the shearing board and Smith the best finished job in the pens.
In today's Corwen Shears Open final, Smith was second to finish, 15 seconds after new Royal Welsh Show Open champion and 2017 Welsh World Championships representative Gwion Evans, who shore the 20 lambs in 12min 52sec. Smith was able to turn the tables with the better pen points and win by 0.4pts, but local Corwen hero Richard Jones, last off in 14min 15sec, had the best overall quality points, as he had in his World title triumph three weeks earlier.
The series win was the biggest triumph in the career of Buick, who made a rushed trip to the UK for the tests after the withdrawal of World Championships third-placegetter Cam Ferguson.
While he did not make today's Corwen Shears final, being eliminated in the semi-final, there was further New Zealand representation in the showdown, with Jack Fagan, of Te Kuiti, finishing in 6th place.
While the Corwen Shears blades competition didn't include the crack southern African shearers who had dominated World bladeshearing title competition for more than two decades, the 28-year-old Oldfield still showed complete class today in beating runner-up and top Welsh exponent Elfed Jackson by almost 10pts. There was a further gap of more than 7pts to third-placed Rheinaullt Hughes, also of Wales.
The flying Kiwi blasted through the six-man final of four-sheep-each in 8min 45sec – beating Jackson by 1min 15sec and averaging just over 2min 10sec a sheep. He also had a board judging margin of more than a point, and best pen-mark by 3.5pts from the next-best with the finished job, the eventually 5th-placed Rhydian Evans, also of Wales.
None of the finalists had been in the six-sheep World final Oldfield won in France on July 7, when he beat runner-up and defending champion Mayenseke Shweni, of South Africa, by more than a sheep and an eventual margin of 4.95pts.
Earlier in that championships week in Le Dorat, Oldfield had been third in an All-Nations final won by Shweni, but he was otherwise all-conquering in his first black-singlet and Silver Fern tour of duty.
His closest other result was his win over father and 2017 World championships placegetter Phil Oldfield by 2.45pts in the Lochearnhead Shears final in Scotland on June 29, and last Monday had a winning margin margin near 6pts in a successful defence of the Royal Welsh Show Open bladeshearing title.
Oldfield will be working in the Falkland Islands for a month and travelling in Italy for a short time before returning to New Zealand in time for the Waimate Shears, including an expected reunion with World teams champion teammate Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie.
Another success for New Zealand at Corwen was that of Masterton nurse Nisha Gordon, who won a Novice woolhandling title, having had a debut success last month at the Lochearnhead Sherars in Scotland, where husband David won a Senior shearing title.
Results from the last day of the 2019 Corwen Shears in North Wales on Saturday-Sunday, July 26-27, 2019:
Agrimin International (20 sheep): New Zealand 98.4pts (Rowland Smith 12min 54sec, 47.55pts; David Buick 12min 52sec, 50.85pts) beat Wales 99.5pts (Richard Jones 13min 32sec, 49.7pts; Alun Lloyd Jones 12min 38sec, 49.8pts) by 1.05pts. New Zealand wins the series 3-1.
Royal Welsh Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (New Zealand) 13min 7sec, 48.85pts, 1; Gwion Evans (Wales) 12min 52sec, 49.25pts, 2; Gareth Evans (Wales) 13min 11sec, 50.95pts, 3; Richard Jones (Wales) 14min 15sec, 51.1pts, 4; Stuart Connor (England) 13min 31sec, 52.6pts, 5; Jack Fagan (New Zealand) 13min 39sec, 54.6pts, 6.