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Blades champions home coming at Waimate shears

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A transtasman test match just about as close to home as it gets will double as a big welcome home for New Zealand’s new World blade shearing champions this weekend.

Oldfield and Dobbs will be shearing the annual test at the two-day New Zealand Spring Shears starting tomorrow (Friday), in Waimate, barely an hour from respective home towns Geraldine and Fairlie.

The test on Saturday evening will be at their competitions since their big triumphs in Central France town Le Dorat in July, when Oldfield became World individual champion and the pair won the teams title.

Up against World final fourth-placegetters Johnathon Dalla and Ken French, they will be defending New Zealand’s unbeaten record in bladeshearing tests against Australia.

The Kiwi pair, who shared a community homecoming celebration in Geraldine last Sunday, will also face off in the Shears’ blade shearing championship, the 28-year-old Oldfield seeking just his third win in New Zealand and 57-year-old Dobbs as little as just three short of 100 victories in an Open-class blade shearing career dating back to 1983.

There will be big interest in whether Oldfield can turn the tables on his teammate who won the Waimate title for a 12th time in a Dobbs-Oldfield one-two finish a year ago.

It’s the first of eight blade shearing events during the 2019-2020 season, at the second of 59 competitions on the Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar.

Although drizzle is forecast for the two days, competition society president Warren White is expecting about 160 shearers and woolhandlers for the events in the sports and events stadium his committee built in conjunction with the local A and P society in time for the Shears’ 50th anniversary two years ago.

As well as the blades, competition will take place in the Open, Senior, Intermediate and Junior machine shearing classes, a first Waimate Novice event, a first-ever Waimate Women’s shearing event, and Open, Senior and Junior woolhandling classes.

The Women’s event follows the introduction last summer of the first of what are expected to be annual Women’s events at the Golden Shears in Masterton and the New Zealand championships in Te Kuiti, reflecting increasing numbers of women in competition, with 11 having made Senior, Intermediate, Junior or Novice finals throughout the country in the pre-Christmas stage of last season.

Another major step forward, and a show of community strength in smaller-town New Zealand will be taking the Shears’ to the World in a new live-streaming project costing about $40,000.

The test match will be the first of six transtasman matches during the summer, with blades shearing, machine shearing and woolhandling tests on November 27 during the Australian national championships in Dubbo, NSW, and machine shearing and woolhandling tests at the 60th Golden Shears in Masterton on March 4-7.

The Open shearing competition this weekend will be the long strongwool second leg of the PGG Wrightson National Circuit. The first was the finewool round at the New Zealand Merino Championships in Alexandra last weekend, with important top early points to Southland shearer and former circuit winner Nathan Stratford.

Later qualifying rounds will be at the national Corriedale Championships in Christchurch on November 15, on lambs in Marton on February 1, and the second-shear Pahiatua Shears on February 29, the top 12 heading for the finals at the Golden Shears a week later.

Stratford will be defending the Spring Shears Open title, with strong challenges from fellow Southland shearer Troy Pyper and North Island guns including former World champions Cam Ferguson and John Kirkpatrick, and New Zealand team member and national lambshearing champion David Buick.

World woolhandling teams champion Pagan Karauria will be out to make it two-from-two for ths season after successfully defending the Merino open woolhandling title last Saturday.

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