Nathan StratfordAnyone who said shearing should be at the Olympics can take a bow after the drama which heralded Invercargill gun Nathan Stratford's triumphant end to the Shearing Sports New Zealand team's tour at the Corwen Shears in North Wales on Saturday.
In an atmosphere said to be almost beyond belief, Stratford outpaced team-mate John Kirkpatrick and Kiwi icon David Fagan to win the 20-lambs Corwen Shears open final.
It was payback big-time for Stratford who shed the dejection of self-blame for New Zealand's defeat a short time beforehand in the last test of the tour, in which he'd cut his own finger and then hooked a flank.
Coaxed back into action by manager Willie Buick, and without a win in the otherwise New Zealand dominated open finals on tour, Stratford put on a blistering display of pace to guarantee not only that it would be a Kiwi trifecta, but that it would also be him who waltzed off with the major purse.
All previous seven open finals on the tour were won by New Zealanders, Kirkpatrick finishing with a record of five wins and three seconds, while the other two were won by Fagan.
The test defeat resulted in a 2-all tied series with Wales, and an overall tour test match outcome of 4 wins and 3 losses, following a 1-1 result against Scotland and a single-test win over Ulster.
Otherwise, all-conquering Jack Fagan's season in the UK ended with a second placing to Welsh shearer Daffyd Jones in the senior final, in which Masterton teenager David Gordon finished fifth, after placing third in the intermediate final.
Another to snare a cheque was Northlander Brya Harrison, who was fifth in the junior final, in which she also achieved best quality points. Filling out the day was an international relay in which Jack Fagan, Dannevirke's Paerata Abraham and Hawke's Bay-based Northlander and 2011 Corwen Open champion Matt Smith was third.