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Trophies galore for dominant Smith

By Gary Caffell

The Rowland Smith show rolled into Masterton on Saturday night.

A one-man extravaganza featuring a tall, lean 30-year-old bloke from Hastings who lives by the adage that actions speak louder than words.

And he wowed the large crowd at the War Memorial Stadium with a performance which left them virtually speechless as well.

In just over two hours on finals night at the 57th edition of the Golden Shears Smith won enough silverware to make the Oscars look like a family day out.

First came the PGG Wrightson National Circuit final, the “triathlon” of machine shearing where competitors have to shear a variety of sheep breeds.

Smith not only won that but he also received the trophy for scoring the best quality points.

Current world champion John Kirkpatrick was second with Nathan Stratford third.

Then came the trans-Tasman test against a strong Aussies outfit.

Smith, Stratford and Troy Coster successfully did the business for New Zealand there with Smith being awarded the trophy for best individual shearer on this occasion.

The open shearing final is the climax to any Golden Shears, the prize that any machine shearer worth his salt covets more than any other.

Smith, the defending champion and three times a winner of the title, had been installed a red-hot favourite by the TAB.

But you had to wonder whether the limited time of recovery from his previous two appearances on centre stage might have dimmed his energy levels to the extent where an upset was on the cards.

That feeling still existed through the early stages of an event where 20 sheep have to be shorn with Smith seemingly struggling to stay with the electric pace set by Scotsman Gavin Mutch, a past Golden Shears and world champion who completed his first sheep in under 40secs.

Us doubters should have known better.

As the commentators reminded the near-packed house this contest is a marathon not a sprint and the longer it progressed the more it became obvious that Smith’s incredible athleticism and skill would carry the day.

With just a couple of sheep remaining he, Mutch, and local favourite, Pongaroa’s David Buick, were neck and neck and they stayed that way to the end with Smith taking fastest time honours (17mins 19.05secs) by the barest of margins.

In shearing competitions, of course, being first past the post doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.

Quality of work is vital and the results of the judging in that department aren’t known until the presentation ceremony.

Here too Smith excelled, so much so that along with being declared the open winner he also took away the trophy for best quality points in the final.

The end result demonstrated Smith’s dominance.

Runner-up Aaron Haynes, of Feilding, was 3.325pts in arrears with Invercargill’s Stratford, who also had a very busy night, placing third.

Buick was a brave fourth, followed by Murray Henderson (Kimbolton) and Mutch, who ultimately paid the penalty for sacrificing quality for speed.

Smith’s public response to his remarkable night was typically low key.

Rather than focus on his own efforts he thanked the organisers, volunteers, officials and sponsors for their support and paid a special tribute to his family’s efforts in that respect as well.

Mind you, he probably didn’t have the breath left to say much more anyway.

Carrying all those hefty trophies off the stage had to be hard work.

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