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It was a Tri-Nations test like no other - it was tense, there was a grandstand packed with spectators, a commentator, national anthems and officials scrutinising the competitors' every move. The only thing missing was a rugby ball.
Instead, in a makeshift shearing shed in Molyneux Stadium, Alexandra, New Zealand, Australian and South African teams competed in a test match for the first Tri-Nations fine wool shearing competition as part of the 50th New Zealand Merino Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.
The New Zealand team took the tightly contested machine-shearing gold medal with Grant Smith, of Rakaia and Charlie O'Neill, of Alexandra scoring a combined total of 170 points.
The Australian team of Damian Boyle and Mark Buscomb took the silver medal with 175 points, leaving bronze for South Africans Issac Ndlongwane and Bongani August with 201 points.
The blade-shearing gold medal was won by South Africans Zweliwile Hans and Mayenzeka Shweni with 194 points.
New Zealanders Mike McConnell and Brian Thompson took the silver medal with 207 points and Australians John Nicholl and Jim Barnett won bronze with 240 points.
Both machine shearers in each team had to complete four sheep; both the blade shearers had two sheep.
The night opened with the junior and senior wool-handling finals with Stevie Mason-Smallman taking the junior title and $400 with 315 points.
Keri Henare won the senior title and $600 with 266 points.
Each of the four competitors handled three merino fleeces from the one shearer.
The teams final also took place with the $1000 first prize won by Yeah Nah of Dion Morrell Shearing.
Shearers Angus Moore and Shane LaMont sheared five sheep and Ratapu Paiku and Mary-Anne Baty handled the five fleeces.
The competition continues today with the open wool-handling and shearing championships tonight, as well as the machine and blade Tri-Nation challenge.