A mere half point separated the first and second placegetters in the Southland Tux New Zealand Yarding Challenge.
Omihi Collie Club member Neil Evans and dog Tess were first on 96 and Warepa Collie Club member Jan Tairua and Jock came second.
The top two placegetters competed in the South Island semifinal at the West Otago Show on Saturday.
Maitland Sheep Dog Trial Club member Eddie Conlan and Zeb won the maiden dog event.
The event was organised by the Gore Sheep Dog Trial Club with help from Greenvale and Maitland club members on behalf of the Southland Sheep Dog Association.
The two-day trial, which also included the Trans Tasman Challenge, was held at Glen Islay Station near Mandeville.
Southland Sheep Dog Association secretary Maria Horrell said there were 145 entries, which was significantly up on the past few years, when there had been between 80 and 100.
“This year they’ve just come out of the woodwork – perhaps ’cause they’re not allowed to go anywhere else,” she said.
Challenge marshall Trevor Roughan said the trial was held at Glen Islay Station because the farm had the quantities of dry hoggets needed for the competition.
The 450 hoggets were worked with dogs for several days.
“When we first started to train them they were very spooky because they’re not used to being handled in such wee mobs.”
The sheep were mostly well behaved but during the final were not as easy to work, he said.