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New Golden Shears Champ Gifts Prize To Cancer Research

MEDIA RELEASE

On behalf of Shearing Sports New Zealand

March 3, 2013

New Golden Shears Champ Gifts Prize To Cancer Research And Awareness

Hastings shearer Rowland Smith realised a dream of ages when he won the Golden Shears Open final on Saturday night, and then donated his $3000 prize to cancer research and awareness.

The 26-year-old’s benevolence came in a wave of emotion in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium where only a short while before his own triumph the crowd had watched in awe as cancer-battler and Australia-based Kiwi woolhandling master Joanne Kumeroa all-but won her seventh Golden Shears Open woolhandling title.

There was standing ovation as over 1000 people saluted his own victory and the courage of 43-year-old Kumeroa who was only diagnosed with cancer in August and who by the end of the week will be back in Melbourne resuming extensive chemotherapy.

Having astonishly made her way from a 45-strong field to reach the final, she was beaten only by 21-year-old Gisborne woolhandler Joel Henare, who beat her in last year’s World Championships final in Masterton.

Smith’s own mother, Christal, died of cancer six years ago, and he barely needed any time to consider what he would be doing with the cash in helping Kumeroa in her pleadings to people to “get it checked” before its too late.

“It’s not about the money,” he said as he raised the shears’ trophy in a moment of triumph he’d yearned since as Northland teenage he ventured south to win t he Golden Shears Junior title nine years ago.

“This has been a lifelong goal,” he said today (Sunday). “Everybody regards it as the top prize.”

His gesture took to over $11,000 the amount raised for the cause during the Golden Shears, including a similar gesture from the Australian woolhandling team after being beaten in a test match against New Zealand 24 hours earlier.

As it happened, the 20-sheep final was closest contested in the 53 years of the “Wimbledon” of shearing since it was first held in 1961, as Smith overcame three fellow Hawke’s Bay guns, all former winners of the coveted title, and all ultimately separated by just 0.466pts.

The last and only other time the top four shearers had been separated by less than two points was in 1978.

Despite being the comparative rookie, the two-metre tall Smith, born in Napier but raised mainly in Northland, was favourite with the TAB after winning eight finals in the six weekes before hand.

With 16-times winner David Fagan, of Te Kuiti, eliminated in the quarterfinals and missing from the final for only the fourth time in 30 years, Smith was still always always going to find it tough against four-times winner John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, 2006 winner Dion King, of Hastings, and 2010 winner Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa.

It was King who poured on the pace throughout the contest, finishing the 20 second-shear sheep first in 16min 30.09sec, 16 secoonds ahead of Kirkpatrick, and another 8 seconds ahead of Smith.

With Ferguson next to finish, all four Hawke’s Bay guns put more than a sheep around World champion Gavin Mutch, a Scotsman farming in Taranaki, and Southland hope Nathan Stratford.

Smith said that unusually the changing room afterwarfds lacked anyone confident of winning when all the points were added, his vikct ory being secured by posting the best quality points. King had to settle for second overall, Kirkpatrick third and Ferguson fourth.

Amazingly, despite his lack of familiarity with the fine-wooled merino, Kirkpatrick was first to finish the multi-breeds PGG Wrightson National Circuit final earlier in the night. Taking 19min 6.862sec for the 15 sheep, half-a-minute slower than the fastest time last year and in nhis first time in the circuit final, he just just pipped 2009-2011winner Tony Coster, of Rakaia, for the major prize.

With points ultimately in the same order as the shearers came off the board, World champion, Scottish national and Whangamomona farmer Gavin Mutch was third and defending champion Angus Moore, from Ward in Marlborough but now living at Kaitangata, South Otago, was fourth.

The 15 sheep comprised three of each type representing each of the qualifying rounds at Alexandra (fine wool), Waimate (longwool, Alexandra (coarse wool), Raglan (lambs) and Pahiatua (second-shear).

Henare became the first male to win the woolhandling title since since Oti Mason, of Dannevirke, won in 2000, and as well as beating multiple-World champion Kumeroa, he ended this year’s Golden Shears dreams of Te Awamutu’s Keryn Herbert and Taihape’s Sheree Alabaster, third and fourth and each still to win a Golden Shears title despite their own World championship success, together as a team in 2010 and Alabaster also in 2008 as an Individual and as a teammate of Kumeroa.

In the other major event of the final night, Kirkpatrick and South Island shearers Angus Moore and Chris Vickers won a shearing test over Australia.

ENDS

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