South Islanders snap up titles at Balclutha

19:57, Feb 11 2013
Nathan Stratford
Nathan Stratford

Two big but popular upsets dominated the Otago shearing and woolhandling championships in Balclutha at the weekend.

The open shearing title was won by a South Islander - Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill - for only the third time in 31 years and Pagan Rimene, of Alexandra, made a clean sweep of its two woolhandling titles.

Stratford became only the second South Island shearer to win the open final in Balclutha in the era of Te Kuiti legend David Fagan, who won it in 1983. Fagan qualified for the five-man final on Saturday and finished fourth.

Waipawa shearer Ferguson, whose 2010 win was followed by his Golden Shears and World Championship triumphs, took charge in the final, with his 17min 16.06sec for 20 sheep allowing him to watch the rest for 31 seconds before Stratford was next to hit the button.

But it was a case of quality over speed as Stratford claimed the win by more than two points from runner-up Ferguson, who edged third-placed John Kirkpatrick by less than four one-hundredths of a point.

Also during the two-day championships, he and Kirkpatrick teamed to give New Zealand a second win in the three-test Elders Primary Wool Shearing Series against Welsh shearers Richard Jones and Gareth Lloyd Evans.

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In the woolhandling section, Rimene, 25, who hadn't won a title since her first open final in 2006, when she beat her mother and former World Teams and Golden Shears champion Tina Rimene in the New Zealand Corriedale Championships final in Christchurch.

With just one other finals placing behind her this season, but three placings in Otago championships finals in the past three years, she won both the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year and South Island Woolhandling Circuit Open finals.

The Woolhandler of the Year victory emulated her mother's 2004 success and banished to second place Gisborne woolhandler Joel Henare.

In her ninth season of competition woolhandling, she had won previously at the Otago championships, claiming the senior woolhandling title in 2006, when she also won the Golden Shears Senior title in Masterton.

The genes have always had her destined for the top, now being realised despite a road tragedy tragedy in 2008, in which two passengers in the work van she was driving were killed, and in which she and sister and fellow successful woolhandler Larnie Morrell were seriously injured.

Her mother has been competing in open competition more than 20 years. Father Dion Morrell is a contractor and former world record holder.

The Southland Times