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A rare moment as Gavin Mutch beats Rowland Smith by almost a sheep and a half in the 20-sheep Taihape Open shearing final on Saturday. Photo / SSNZ

Gotcha! time for Scots gun as champion shearers face-off at Taihape

Speed was finally the winner for Scots shearer Gavin Mutch as he scored a rare win over prolific champion Rowland Smith in the Taihape A and P Show Open shearing final on Saturday.

Mutch put more than a sheep around all other five finalists in the 20-sheep showdown, finishing the 20 second-shear ewes in 16min 8sec, with Smith lapped at the end of Mutch’s 13th and still on No 18 as Mutch pulled the cord for the last time. Smith was ultimately the second-man off in 17min 24sec.

Now farming and shearing in Southern Hawke’s Bay, after living most of his 20 years in New Zealand in Taranaki, Mutch would say while awaiting the official result: “A bit rough, but I didn’t cut any.”

“That’s one of the best finals I’ve seen for a while,” commentator Tuma Mullins before confirming Mutch had enough of a time-points buffer to hold out the better quality points of Smith, and win by 1.2pts in the final count.

As an A-grade show victory it was a morale booster for 2012 World champion and 2015 Golden Shears winner Mutch leading to this year’s Golden Shears (on March 4-6), with defending champion Smith aiming for an 8th win in the glamour event. Mutch in November won the New Zealand Corriedale Shears title at Marble Point in Canterbury.

Third on Saturday was David Buick who had just left for home in Pongaroa believing he’d missed a place in the final, when he got the call to return, to replace Gisborne shearer Tama Niania, who lost his place under penalty for failing to show for “tipping-up” after the semi-final – a requirement on all shearers to go to the pens after their event to tip-up sheep for the judges in the next event on the programme.

Again the quality and experience of the field was highlighted by the presence of four shearers each with more than 15 years in Open competition, and a combined total of about 450 wins.

Te Kuiti woolhandler Keryn Herbert, yet to win a Golden Shears Open title, successfully defended the Taihape title,winning for a 7th time in the State Highway 1 town. But it was a close call with the victory by just 0.752pts from Masterton woolhandler and runner-up Samantha Gordon, with a 7pts gap to third-placed multiple World and Golden Shears champion Joel Henare, of Gisborne.

Wairarapa competitors dominated the Senior, Intermediate and Junior shearing finals.

Masterton youngsters Kyle Mita and Joseph Gordon won the Senior and Intermediate events respectively. It was Gordon’s second win of the season, again at the expense of brother Adam Gordon, winner of 8 of his 10 finals this season

Open shearer Buick’s son Michael, a pupil at Rathkeale College, near Masterton, won the Junior final.

No 1-ranked 2019-2020 Junior woolhandler and 2020 Golden Shears Junior woolhandling champion Te Anna Phillips, of Taumarunui, turned her hand to shearing to win the Novice event, from a good field of 14. But Phillips had to settle for second in the Senior woohandling final, which was won by Napier competitor Jasmin Tipoki, who was No 1-ranked Senior last season without winning a final. Saturday’s Junior woolhandling final was won by Shontaye Walker,of Whanganui.

The Taihape shears attracted 103 shearers and 42 woolhandlers, pleasing organiser Stu Munro amid the absence of the usual influx of shearers from overseas, blocked this year by Covid-19 border controls.

The season heats up next weekend, with shearing at the Dannevirke A and P Show on Friday, the Aria Sports on Saturday and the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton on Sunday, and in the South Island the shearing-only Reefton Shears on Waitangi Day.

RESULTS from the Taihape A and P Show shearing and woolhandling championships on Saturday, January 30, 2021:


Open final (20 sheep): Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Dannevirke) 16min8sec, 57.5pts, 1; Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 17min 24sec, 58.95pts, 2; David Buick (Pongaroa) 16min 43sec, 59.7pts, 3; John Kirkpatrick (Pakipaki) 17min 27sec, 62.65pts, 4; Hemi Braddick (Eketahuna) 17min 52sec, 63.15pts, 5; Hayden Tapp (Taihape) 17min 41sec, 63.35pts, 6.

Senior final (10 sheep): Kyle Mita (Masterton) 10min 21sec, 40.65pts, 1; Chris Dickson (Masterton) 10min 10sec, 42.1pts, 2; Paora Moanaroa (Eketahuna) 10min 51sec, 42.75pts, 3; Paul Swann (Wairoa) 11min 28sec, 45.1pts, 4; Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 9min 51sec, 45.25pts, 5; Sean Gouk (Masterton) 10min 54sec, 47.2pts, 6.

Intermediate final (8 sheep): Joseph Gordon (Masterton) 11min 3sec, 41.775pts, 1; Adam Gordon (Masterton) 12min 24sec, 46.2pts, 2; Clay Harris (Pio Pio) 11min 24sec, 49.325pts, 3; Rameka Thwaites (Feilding) 11min 33sec, 49.65pts, 4; Ellis Rees (Wales) 10min 53sec, 51.275pts, 4; Tem Sidney (Hunterville) 12min 26sec, 54.175pts, 6.

Junior final (4 sheep): Michael Buick (Pongaroa) 10min 6sec, 34.55pts, 1; Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 8min 33sec, 35.9pts, 2; Keahrey Manson (Taihape) 9min 21sec, 36.3pts, 3; Mark Baxter (Pongaroa) 9min 42sec, 40.35pts, 4; Josh Devane (Taihape) 11min 18sec, 42.65pts, 5; Henry Stewart (Feilding) 11min 32sec, 43.88pts, 6.

Novice (1 sheep): Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 5min 36sec, 29.8pts, 1; Lily Alabaster (Taihape) 5min 6sec, 30.3pts, 2; Emma Kendrick (Feilding) 5min 21sec, 31.05pts, 3; Sam Loder (-) 5min, 32pts, 4; Tawhiti Whare (-) 4min 17sec, 34.85pts, 5; Todd Reilly (Feilding) 4min 54sec, 35.7pts, 6.


Open final: Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 61.964pts, 1; Samantha Gordon (Masterton) 62.716pts, 2; Joel Henare (Gisborne) 69.404pts, 3; Angela Stevens (Napier) 80.91pts, 4; Brittany Tibble (Gisborne) 84.022pts, 5.

Senior wool: Jasmin Tipoki (Napier) 60.63pts, 1; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 63.27pts, 2; Summer Pritchard (Pongaroa) 64.784pts, 3; Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 67.4pts, 4; Azuredee Paku (Masterton) 74.098pts, 5.

Junior: Shontaye Walker (Whanganui) 42.81pts, 1; Alisha Te Huia (Marton) 44.53pts, 2; Rahera Kerr (Hautupu) 47.1pts, 3; Savannah King (Eketahuna) 73.08pts, 4; Te Whetu Brown (Wairoa) 77.52pts, 5.

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