Kiwis leap ahead in title hopes

The New Zealand bladeshearers have roared into serious contention for a win on the last night of the World Shearing Championships in Invercargill, despite the domination by defending champion and South African shearer Mayenseke Shweni in the Southland All Nations final last night.

Fairlie farmer Tony Dobbs and Geraldine blades supplier Phil Oldfield, who were a promising second and third in the All Nations final in front of a Friday-night crowd of 2000 people in Invercargill's ILT Stadium Southland, today headed-off Shweni and teammate Bangani Joel for top-ranking in the World Championships teams blade shearing final to be shorn in front of a crowd twice the size tonight.

The teams finalists were decided on accumulation of points during the individual heats, the second round of which was held today, Dobbs and Oldfield being second third on the individual rankings behind Shweni, with South Australian farmer Johnathon Dalla pipping Joel for fifth in the list of 12 qualifiers.

The most experienced World Championships competitor, 69-year-old George Mudge, of England qualified in sixth place in his 11th World Championships. He shore in the second championships in 1980 in Masterton as a machine shearer and made the final four years later in England. He then retired, but came back as a blade shearer for the 1998 championships in Ireland.

His son, Andrew Mudge, also qualified, but the oldest of the 116 who were entered in the World Championshoips, American veteran Kevin Ford, 71, missed qualifying for the semi-finals by just one place.

The semi-finals will be later today, the final tonight in front of a crowd expected to top 4000.


World championships blade- shearing semi-final qualifiers (points totalled from two rounds): Mayenseke Shweni (South Africa) 108.512pts, 1; Tony Dobbs (New Zealand) 111.848pts, 2; Phil Oldfield (New Zealand) 124.701pts, 3; Johnathon Dallas (Australia) 134.646pts, 4; Bangani Joel (South Africa) 135.948pts, 5; George Mudge (England) 139.724pts, 6; Ken French (Australia) 142.008pts, 7; Peter Heraty (Ireland) 142.786pts, 8; Andrew Mudge (England) 156.293pts, 9; Mark Armstrong (156.978pts, 10; Noel Joyce (Ireland) 163.602pts, 11; Gareth Owen (Wales) 168.75pts, 12.

Qualifiers for the Teams final: New Zealand 236.549pts, 1; South Africa 244.046pts, 2; Australia 276.654pts, 3; England 296.017pts, 4; Ireland 306.388pts, 5; Wales 343.013pts, 6.


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