The 2018 PBR Australia Grand Finals headed to its new home in Townsville, Queensland with four riders still in contention to win the 2018 PBR Australian National Championship.
A maximum of 1250 points would be available over the five rounds of competition with a further 1250 points awarded to the winner of the event aggregate.
Aaron Kleier (Clermont, QLD) led the PBR Australia standings with a 775-point advantage over Cliff Richardson (Gresford, NSW).
2015 PBR Australia Champion Fraser Babbington (Gisborne, NZ) sat third, a further 479 points back with the 2016 Champion Cody Heffernan (Singleton, NSW) a total of 1527 points behind Kleier in fourth.
Fraser Babbington was absent from Rounds 1 & 2 after travel issues delayed his arrival in Townsville. Jay Borghero (Beaudesert, QLD) replaced the No. 3 ranked rider in the draw for Night 1.
The first rider to get a score on the board was Toby Leake (Dungog, NSW) who scored 82.5-points aboard Disturbed (Diamond J Rodeo Co).
Competing as an alternate in his first PBR Australia Finals, the 19-year-old matched Disturbed jump for jump.
Rookie of the Year leader Michael Smith was the next man to put a score on the board, combining with Chilli Beans (George Ayers) with an 84.5-point ride.
The bull turned back to the left with 21-year-old making a great ride away from his hand. Smith placed second in the round, and his lead is now out to over 300-points in the Rookie race.
Kurt Shephard (Atherton, QLD) also added a score to the leaderboard in the first section of Round 1. He matched up against Road Rage (Fred Kleier) for the third time since his return from injury and came away with 76-points.
Shephard vs Road Rage
The judges offered Shephard a re-ride, but the 24-year-old declined the option.
The first International rider out was Junio Quaresima (Meridiano, Brazil). He faced off with Ted (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) who turned in one of the performances of the night, marked 42.75-points in the 3.78-second buck off.
Fellow Brazilian Rubens Barbosa (Iaciara, Brazil) was the next rider out, and he went up against Shots from Dittmann Bucking Bulls. Shots had been covered by the last four cowboys to draw him. The veteran made it five in a row with a stunning 87-point ride.
Barbosa vs Shots
Shots turned back to the left as the gate cracked with the 35-year-old making the turn with a great seat. The whistle blew, and Barbosa took home maximum points with the Round 1 win.
With No.2 Cliff Richardson and No.4 Cody Heffernan both hitting the dirt early in the opening section, No. 1 Aaron Kleier had a fantastic opportunity to extend his overall lead in the PBR Australia Standings.
Kleier took full advantage, maintaining his perfect riding record against Booger Man (Dunne Bulls) and recording 84.25-points. The 19-year-old is now 3-for-3 against the left spinning bull.
Kleier vs Booger Man
He earned 125 points for his third-place finish in the round and extended his lead to over 900-points to his nearest rival.
Lucas Divino (Nova Crixas, Brazil) drew one of the riders’ favourites for the opening round. The cowboys of the PBR have covered Jackie Who (Dunne Bulls) in five of his six outs, and Divino went into the matchup a firm favourite.
The bull put in a fake to the left and then settled into his regular right-handed spin with the Brazilian easily making the whistle for 82.5-points.
Local bull rider Braydon Wellby (Townsville, QLD) became the seventh rider to record an opening round score with 78.5-points on Rockslide (Dunne Bulls).
Wellby vs Rockslide
The 22-year-old became only the second rider to make the 8-second mark on the bull who turned back to the right and into Wellby’s hand.
The second round started with Ethan Watts (Tamworth, NSW) facing off with Take the Gamble (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls). The two had met three times previously with the bull winning all matches in under 3-seconds.
This round would be no different with the bull making short work of the pint-sized rider down in just 1.37 seconds.
Rubens Barbosa had a great chance to stay perfect against Super Natural (Wallace Bucking Bulls) who looks to be an excellent fit for the Brazilian.
Barbosa vs Super Natural
Barbosa made a perfect ride into his hand as the bull wound his way across the arena, adding 84.75 points to finish the night atop the leaderboard with 171.75 points on two bulls.
Bailey Woodard (Dingo, QLD) was the next rider to record a qualified ride aboard the massive bull Barn Yard (Fred Kleier). Barn Yard was previously unridden in PBR competition and had built up an impressive list of riders in his buck-off column.
The bull turned back to the left, and the 22-year-old turned in one of the most impressive and spectacular rides of the night for 86.75-points and second place finish in the round.
Woodard vs Barn Yard
The Bulls won four straight matchups with Cody Heffernan (vs King Kong), Michael Smith (vs Bring It On), Cliff Richardson (vs Devils Diamond) and Justin Paton all down early.
Paton was up against Rata Tat Tat (Diamond J Rodeo Co) who put in another outstanding performance and was awarded 43.25 points in his 6-seconds work.
Lucas Divino added 82-points aboard Ryans Gangster (BK Bucking Bulls) to become the second rider to go 2-for-2 and set himself up for a strong finish in the aggregate.
As expected, the bull left the chutes strong and took a few jumps forward before deciding to turn back to the right.
19-year-old Lane Mellers (Mundubbera, QLD) was the next cowboy to make the whistle with a Round 2 winning score of 87.25-points aboard Tough Task (Dunne Bulls).
Mellers was perfect aboard the bull, who threw plenty of tricks at the young-gun to combine for the high-marked qualified ride of the Grand Finals so far.
With his rivals once again recording no scores in Round 2, Aaron Kleier had an outstanding opportunity to eliminate several riders from championship contention as he faced off with one of the best bull in the pen.
POA Fully Locked and Loaded (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) had been previously ridden for four times, for four round wins in PBR competition.
Kleier looked to have a good seat as the bull turned back to the right, but the power and kick became too much with the Clermont cowboy down over the front at the 4-second mark of the ride.
POA Fully Locked and Loaded was awarded a massive bull score of 44.75 points to take out the high-marked out of the night.
Rohan Markham (Ravenshoe, QLD) put his name onto the Leaderboard as he matched Blossom (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls) jump for jump and 81.75-points.
Veteran Ryan Storey (Mackay, QLD) closed out the night with an outstanding 85-point ride aboard his re-ride bull Panic Stations (Diamond J Rodeo Co).
Barbosa leads the way after Night 1
No. 3 ranked Fraser Babbington was back in the draw following his travel issues leading up to the opening night, but Lachlan Slade (Warwick, QLD) was ruled out of competition with a leg injury, meaning Jay Borghero would retain his spot in the draw for night 2.
It was a slow start to the night with the Bulls winning the battle early in the round. That was until Junio Quaresima became the first rider to record a score with a 76.5 point ride aboard I’m Wicked (Fred Kleier). Quaresima was offered a re-ride but decline the option.
Sonny Schafferius (Dysart, QLD) threw everything he had at Rockslide (Dunne Bulls) in an attempt to get his name onto the leaderboard, but the buck off came at 3.92 seconds. It was an awkward landing for the 29-year-old who sat out the rest of the event as a precaution with neck pain.
Rubens Barbosa was also offered a re-ride following his 75.25 point ride on Moonshine Bandit (Fred Kleier). Barbosa declined and took the score, extending his lead in the event aggregate with a total of 247-points.
Last weekend’s Iron Cowboy Champion Justin Paton (Nebo, QLD) went up against Need For Speed (Fred Kleier) to close out the opening section and got himself onto the leaderboard with 80.5-points. It was a rough get off for the 26-year-old who left the arena clutching at his arm.
After being assessed by medical staff, Paton was ruled out of competition with a possible broken riding arm and a nasty laceration to his forearm.
The bulls continued to dominate in section two with the first four riders bucking off.
With his Round 2 score of 86.75-points holding up well on the leaderboard, Bailey Woodard went up against Firecracker (BK Bucking Bulls) as he attempted to add a second qualified ride. The bull turned back away from the 19-year-old’s hand and wound his way across the arena and ultimately won the matchup in 5.01 seconds.
Lane Mellers added a second score to his total and kept the pressure on Michael Smith in the Rookie of the Year race.
Mellers vs Disturbed
Mellers became the second rider to make the whistle aboard Disturbed (Diamond J Rodeo Co) at the Grand Finals, scoring 77-points and moving into the fourth spot on the event leaderboard.
Championship contenders Cliff Richardson and Cody Heffernan missed out on great opportunities to make up ground on Kleier when they both bucked off their third bull of the event.
Aaron Kleier took full advantage and recorded a second qualified ride aboard Armed and Dangerous (Dittmann Bucking Bulls). The bull threw plenty of tricks at Kleier as he worked his way across the dirt, but Kleier stuck with him for 81-points, moving into third place in the aggregate.
Kleier vs Armed and Dangerous
It was good enough for second place in the round and extended his lead by another 150-points.
The winner of the round was alternate Jay Borghero, who produced a nice ride away from his hand aboard Silent Rage (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) for 84.25 points.
There were just three rides in Round 4, and it was Lucas Divino who got the ball rolling for the Cowboys.
Divino moved to the number one spot on the event leaderboard with 84.5 points on Rock The House (Dunne Bulls).
Kurt Shephard then added 84.75 points on Pistol Whip (Dunne Bulls) who turned back into the 24-year-olds hand. Shephard moved into fifth in the event with a 160.75-point total.
Shephard finished second in the round behind Cliff Richardson.
Richardson needed to produce a something special to make it back into the Championship Round and to keep his Championship aspirations alive. He did just that, lighting up the sold-out crowd with 87.75-points aboard Annihilation to take home maximum points in the round.
Richardson vs Annihilation
The Championship race was down to two riders with the gap between Kleier and Richardson sitting at 800-points.
Ryan Storey was first out in the Championship Round and was up against Rata Tat Tat (BK Bucking Bulls). The bull added another impressive out to his resume, scoring 43.25 points in just 1.91 seconds.
Bailey Woodard faced off against Tough Task (Dunne Bulls), but the bull was too strong, winning the battle in 5.17 seconds.
Cliff Richardson was pumped up for his clash with King Kong (Fred Kleier), but the bull power was too much with the Gresford talent down in 3.56 seconds. The bull was awarded 43.75 points.
Kurt Shephard almost went the distance on POA Palooka (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) with the clock stopping at 7.10 seconds as the Queenslander hit the dirt. Shephard finished fifth in the event, capping off a successful return from injury with 160.75-points.
Lane Mellers was awarded a re-ride after Berzerk (Wallace Bucking Bulls) wouldn’t cooperate with the rider in the chute.
Aaron Kleier was next to ride and Lock n Load (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls) needed to put up 44.25-points to dislodge the young-gun in 3.04 seconds. He had clinched the 2018 PBR Australian National Champion following Richardson’s earlier buck off. Kleier finished 2-for-5 on 165.25-points.
Rubens Barbosa was no match for Bring It On (Diamond J Rodeo Co) who was declared the winner in 4.19 seconds. Barbosa finished second in the event with a total of 247-points.
Lane Mellers gave it his all against I’m a Freckle Too (Wallace Bucking Bulls) in his re-ride, but the buck off came at 4.09 seconds. His fourth-place finish with 164.25-points in the aggregate was enough to overcome the slim 6-point deficit in the Rookie of the Year Standings and overtake Michael Smith.
Lucas Divino took out the Championship Round with an 87-point ride on POA Fully Locked and Loaded. The ride sealed the event win for the Brazilian who was the only man to go 4-for-5 across the weekend. His total aggregate score was 336-points.
Divino vs Fully Locked and Loaded
2018 PBR Australian National Champion – Aaron Kleier (Clermont, QLD) (Read about Kleier Season HERE)
2018 PBR Australia Rookie of the Year – Lane Mellers (Mundubbera, QLD)
2018 PBR Australia Bucking Bull of the Year – Take The Gamble (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls)
2018 PBR Australia Stock Contractor of the Year – Throsby and Russell Bucking Bulls (Hunter Valley, NSW)
2018 PBR Australia Grand Finals Event Champion – Lucas Divino (Nova Crixas, Brazil)
2018 PBR Australia Grand Finals Bucking Bull of the Event – Locked n Load (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls) and POA Fully Locked and Loaded (Dittmann Bucking Bulls).
2018 PBR Australia Grand Finals Bull Team Champions – Dittmann Bucking Bulls (Bloomsbury, QLD)
For Full Results and the end of season Standings, visit the PBR Australia website and head to the Standings Page and also checkout the Results and Stats Section.