Stratford thrilled wait for title over

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After competing in his 18th South Island Shearer of The Year final, Invercargill man Nathan Stratford finally took the top spot on Saturday.
It may have taken a long time but it just about meant more than the world title he won last year, Stratford said of beating two-time title winner Rowland Smith, from Hawkes Bay.
Stratford has shorn in the final 18 times at the Southern Shears in Gore, the last 16 in a row.
He has been runner-up four times and five times the third placegetter.
The closest he had come was in 2006 when he was beaten by just 0.03pts, when the title was won by Tuatapere shearer Alton Devery.
Although he took the South Island title, Stratford had to settle for fifth in the open-class final on Saturday.
It was won by Smith for the third year in a row.
“I thought I was too far behind, but I had to wait around for the results,” Stratford said.
He won with the best points for quality.
It was enough to give him victory by almost half a point from David Buick, of Wairarapa, who maintained the second place in which he had finished the race, also more than a minute before Stratford.
Competitors from Eastern Southland did well with Ebony Turipa, of Gore, and Mataura’s Nova Kumeroa Elers finishing first and second respectively in the senior woolhandling.
Although Turipa does not plan to compete in coming Golden Shears, she will now move up a grade into the open section at the New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships in Alexandra later this year.
“It was good to get one last win in the senior section,” Turipa said.
Candy Hiri, of Gore, was third in the open wool-handling section and Gore man Lionel Taumata was third in the senior shearing and first in the best quality points section.
Results from the woolhandling on the first day of the Southern Shears at Gore on Friday._
Open final: Cheri Peterson (Milton) 175.75pts, 1; Foonie Waihape (Gisborne) 191.37sec, 2; Candy Hiri (Gore) 91.9pts, 3.

Senior final: Ebony Turipa (Gore) 80.324pts, 1; Nova Kumeroa Elers (Mataura) 86.112pts, 2; Angela Stevens (Napier) 86.926pts, 3; Maiden Elers (Mataura) 125.05pts, 4.
Junior: Tyler Hira (Onewhero) 65.67pts, 1; Amber Poihipi (Ohai) 75.894pts, 3; Michelle McMaster (Winton) 139.69pts, 3; Gypsy Hoani (Gore) 192.8pts, 4.
New Zealand versus Wales test: New Zealand.
North versus South challenge: North.