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Smith wins North Island Speedshear title

Article by Doug Laing - Shearing Sports New Zealand

Reigning World, Golden Shears and New Zealand Open shearing champion Rowland Smith turned his hand triumphantly to the short-form competition stage when he won the first North Island Speedshear Championship from an international field in Te Kuiti last night.

Several hundred people packed the Waitete Rugby Club for the event which attracted competitors from at least seven countries as New Zealand gears-up for the 40th Anniversary World shearing and woolhandling championships in Invercargill next month.

Many had been in King Country for two eight-hour World Record events earlier in the week, and many are expected to compete in tonight's Te Puna Speedshear in Bay of Plenty and at the Tauranga Show tomorrow.

Smith, whose third place in New Zealand's World Championships team selection series final in November cut him out of a place in the two-man black-singlet machine shearing team and the chance to defend his title at the World Championships in ILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11, grabbed some consolation with a winning cheque of $2000 last night, and would be hoping of a repeat addition to the bank balance tonight.

The Open speedshear last night attracted over 30 entries, with Smith producing the fastest time of 19.4sec for a single sheep, pipping runner-up James Ritchie, of Piopio, by half a second.
The Senior final was won by Chris Rowberry, from Herefordshire, England, a second clear of runner-up Aaron Bell, of Waipawa.

Adding to the international flavour of the night was a match for the French World Championship team of Loic Leygonie and Thimoleon. They were beaten by King Country locals Craig Fagan and James Ritchie and now face longer-form matches against local competition sides at the Tauranga Show tomorrow and the Wairoa A and P Show next Saturday as they count down to next month's big week in Southland.

A gallant bid by Wales to win the Farmers' Speedshear, spearheaded by international judge Arwyn Jones and Welsh team manager Martyn David, was foiled by a trio of local cockies, victory going to Brian Kelly, of Te Kuiti.

Results of the North Island Speedshear Championship at the Waitete Rugby Club, Te Kuiti, on Friday, January 13, 2017:

Open: Rowland Smith (Hastings) 19.4sec, 1; James Ritchie (Piopio) 20.92sec, Cartwright Terry (Cambridge) 21.5pts, 3; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 21.96sec, 4; Whanake Whare (Taumarunui) 22.64sec, 5; Gwion Evans (Wales) 23.22sec, 6.

Senior: Chris Rowberry (England) 28.42sec, 1; Aaron Bell (Waipawa) 29.72sec, 2; Stefan Van Oorschot (Tuakau) 35.34sec, 3.

International: Waitete (Craig Fagan, James Ritchie) 55sec, 1; France (Loic Leygonie, Thimoleon Resneau) 1min 1.6sec, 2.

There was over $6000 in cash prizes and sponsors and supporters included Merial Ancare, Hatuma DP, Lister, Acto Agriculture, Tui, McDonalds, Peter Wyllie PGG Wrightson Real Estate, and shearing contractors Fagan Shearing, Barrowcliffe Shearing, and CT Shearing (Thirkells).