A rookie New Zealand woolhandling team has scored a stunning win over two vastly experienced Australian internationals in a trans-Tasman test match in Australia.
The test, part of the Australian National Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Bendigo, Victoria, was the first international appearance for both Angela Stevens of Napier and Cushla Abraham of Masterton.
In a competition of six fleeces for each side, a combination of merino and crossbred, they claimed victory by almost six points over Aroha Garvin, an expatriate New Zealander who first represented Australia in 1999, and Racheal Hutchison, who was competing in an Australian-record 11th trans-Tasman test.
NZ’s Allan Oldfield and Tony Dobbs won a bladeshearing test on Friday night, maintaining NZ’s unbeaten record since bladeshearing was added to the series in 2010.
However, the machine-shearing team of veteran Nathan Stratford and new internationals Leon Samuels and Stacey Te Huia was to unable to break NZ’s sequence of defeats in machine-shearing tests in Australia since that year.
The woolhandling triumph was a particularly proud moment for Stevens, whose birthday it was. She was following in the footsteps of father John Kirkpatrick, the 2017 World Champion shearer and four-times Golden Shears champion who shore a NZ record 19 trans-Tasman tests, including a win on debut in West Australia in 2002.
Abraham, whose husband, Paerata, made the most of the crossing to win a A$10,000 ($10,800) first prize at a speed shear in Hamilton, Victoria, said she and Stevens felt they had competed well, though they tailed the Australians on time.
“But we knew it would be very hard to beat the Aussie girls, so we were expecting second place,” she said.
NZ has now won 35 of the 45 woolhandling tests since woolhandling was added to trans-Tasman competition in 1998. Stevens and Abraham will represent NZ again in the next test at the Golden Shears in Masterton in March.
Oldfield, from Geraldine but living in the Lower Hutt suburb Waiwhetu, and Dobbs, of Fairlie, overcame the challenge of the merinos of Australia in a contest of three sheep each, scoring their fourth consecutive win together over the Australian pair of Johnathon Dalla and Ken French.
Oldfield and Dobbs added to the triumph by finishing first and second respectively in the Bendigo open-bladeshearing final.