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A fine shear needed to beat Ockers


From Doug Laing on behalf of Shearing Sports New Zealand

September 28, 2014

A fine shear needed to beat Ockers in finewool champs

The two Kiwi shearers beaten by a West Australian team in a finewool shearing match in Perth on Saturday have returned home determined to break an Australian stranglehold on New Zealand’s big finewool title this week in the Central Otago town of Alexandra.

The New Zealand Alexandra team of Grant Smith, of Rakaia, and Charlie O’Neill, of Alexandra, was beaten by the Royal Perth Show team of Damien Boyle, from Tambellup, Broomehill, and Mark Buscumb, from Williams, both southeast of Perth.

“But we weren’t too far away,” said the 48-year-old Smith. “We were within about two points.”

The two Australians also finished first and second in the Royal Perth Show Open final, an ominous sign ahead of the New Zealand Merino Championships which open the 2014-2015 Shearing Sports New Zealand season on Friday and Saturday.

Smith was fourth, and O’Neill, 39, just failed to qualify for the final.

In Alexandra Boyle will be aiming for a record fifth consecutive title in New Zealand’s only finewool event, while he and Buscumb will be out to complete a 2-0 series win over the Kiwis, and atone for a transtasman challenge loss to Kiwis Tony Coster and Chris Vickers in Alexandra 12 months ago.

Smith, a recognised Master Shearer who won the Alexandra title in 2004 and was runner-up to Boyle in 2010 and third last year, was pinning some of the hopes this week on the Australian’s scheduled late arrival.

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“He’s only flying-in on Thursday, so he won’t get a lot of practice in,” he said, but added:

“Anything will happen on the day.”

Boyle has rarely spent more than a few days preparing for the Alexandra event, in which he first contested the Open final in 1998.

“He still does a good job, so you’ve got to try to match him with the job, and be a bit ahead of him,” Smith said.

Boyle has also “sort of worked-out” how to use cover combs, the metal designed to leave the equivalent of 2-3 weeks wool on the sheep in colder climates but also now being used to offer sheep some protection from sunburn in the hotter climates of Australia.

The NZ Merino Championships include Open and Senior shearing titles, and Open, Senior and Junior woolhandling titles, the first in a Shearing Sports New Zealand season of more than 60 shows ending next April.

The Open shearing heats are the compulsory first round of the PGG Wrightson National Championship, which also includes crossbred longwool at Waimate, corriedale at Christchurch, lambs at Marton and second-shear at Pahiatua, leading to a final at the Golden Shears in Masterton in March.

Invercargil shearer Nathan Stratford won the series title last March and was named a Master Shearer last month, and in 2009 was the last New Zealand shearer to win the Open final at Alexandra.


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