Brothers Matt Smith and Rowland Smith (back row, second and third from left), from Hawke’s Bay, placed first and second at the weekend in the Royal Bath and West Open shearing final in England and are among the favourites for the World Championships – representing England and New Zealand respectively.
Hawke’s Bay’s mark on the Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Scotland later this month started to take shape with brothers Matt and Rowland Smith finishing first and second in the Open final at the Royal Bath and West Show in England early today.
An award-winning farmer based in Cornwall for more than a decade, Matt Smith will represent England at the championships at the Royal Highland Show on June 22-25, while Maraekakaho farmer and agricultural and shearing contractor Rowland Smith will represent New Zealand, with his brother among the greatest threats to his hopes of winning the world title for a second time.
Matt Smith won the Royal Bath and West race at Shepton Mallet, Somerset, by just three seconds in a final of 20 lambs each, which he shore in 14 minutes 14sec, but had a comfortable eventual winning margin of over three points as his brother acclimatised in his second competition in just three days since arriving from New Zealand.
The next to finish, in 14min 22sec and among the four Welsh shearers who made up the rest of the final, was Llyr Jones, whose quality was not the best on the day and saw him placed sixth overall.
The Smiths’ expected major challenger in the World Championships, reigning world champion and Welsh shearer Richard Jones, failed to qualify for the weekend’s final.
Matt Smith was a earlier second in the England National final, beaten by English shearer and world lambshearing record-holder Stuart Connor, who shore for Rowland Smith in Hawke’s Bay during the summer.