Rural Games Speedshear
Travelling Jack claims second Rural Games speed shear title
All roads, or what seemed to be just about all of them, were paved with gold for Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan as he today became the first to win two New Zealand Rural Games Speed Shear titles.
Successfully defending the title he won last year, it was Fagan’s second speed shear win in a rugged travel schedule which took him on a flight from Hamilton to Christchurch a 110km drive from Christchurch to the Mayfield A and P Show, and the 142km from Mayfield to Sefton on Saturday, and the next morning the drive from Sefton to Christchurch Airport and a light to Palmerston North.
It was a successful weekend, with fourth place in the Mayfield A and P Show’s Open shearing final on Saturday afternoon, and a $2500 first prize in the Anglers Arms speed shear in Sefton on Saturday night.
He wasn’t the only one clocking up the kilometres. Of the 10 invited for the games’ speed shear in the Palmerston North square, six had also competed at Mayfield and Sefton the previous day.
Marton shearer and 2018 Rural Games speed shear winner Jimmy Samuels, with 53 wins to his name in speed shear events, but having not made the trip south, seemed to be justifying his position as favourite at the TAB as he was top qualifier in the first three rounds and semi-final in Palmerston North, as the field was cut by the two slowest at each stage.
Shearing first-shear lambs aged about six months, he twice shore 19.06 seconds for a single lamb, the fastest times of the day, but was unable to carry it through to the final of two lambs each.
King Country gun Fagan, son of inaugural 2015 games speed shear winner Sir David Fagan and claiming his 42nd speedshear win, shore the pair in 47.34sec, Rangitikei ace Samuels, with 53 speed shear wins to his name, shearing his final in 49.52sec.
Jack Fagan, who turns 29 in April, described the scene “out back” as tense despite the camaraderie of the shearers, passengers together on an aircraft in the morning but fierce combatants on the shearing board just four hours later – changing combs and preparing the gear in the mere minutes between sheep as the day, the sheep and the contest heated up.
“I nearly bombed out in the first round, which showed how tough it was,” he said, recalling the first of his two first-round lambs, a 27.64sec effort which placed him at sudden-death a few minutes later, salvaged with a 23.44sec shear which placed him 6th of eight going into Round 2.
Regular top-three rival Paerata Abraham, of Masterton, and veteran 2020 beaten finalist Digger Balme, of Otorohanga, finished third and fourth, being eliminated in the semi-finals.
Fagan and Samuels are also fighting out the finish of the JR Memorial Speed Shear Circuit, with Samuels holding a 1pt lead going into the fin al round at the New Zealand Shears, being held in Te Kuiti on April 8-10. There is a separate speed shear at Urenui on March 27.
Final Rural Games New Zealand Speed Shearing Championship placings at Palmerston North on Sunday: Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 1, Jimmy Samuels (Marton) 2, Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 3, Digger Balme (Otorohanga) 4, Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 5, Brett Roberts (Mataura) 6, Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 7, Leon Samuels (Invercargill) 8, Lionel Taumata (Gore) 9, Ringakaha Paewai (Gore) 10.
Rural Games Women’s challenge (2 lambs): Laura Bradley (Woodville) 1min 2.84sec, beat Ingrid Smith (Maraekakaho) 1min 17.22sec.
Anglers Arms speed shear at Sefton on Saturday: Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 1, Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 2.