PBR Australia’s Monster Energy Tour heads to the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales tonight for the 2019 Grafton Invitational.
The daysheet features an even mix of youth and experience on both sides of the draw, and that has resulted in plenty of must-see matchups. Here are a few to keep your eye on.
Round 1 Matchups
Brady Fielder on The Donald (TnR Bucking Bulls):
The Donald has bucked off his last four combatants thanks to his inconsistent rhythm which upsets the rider early in the battle . We have previously seen just three riders make the whistle aboard The Donald, but Fielder has been on fire in PBR Australia competition. The rookie bull rider has picked up three buckles and a second placing from his last four starts on tour and has covered eight of his previous nine bulls.
Josh Cavanagh on Spokane (TnR Bucking Bulls):
Cavanagh recently returned from a stint in the USA where he put together some very nice rides. The Rockhampton cowboy has put up some big numbers in his short PBR Australia career, and he gets a chance to add another solid score here against Spokane. Riders have covered this bull in all three of his PBR Australia trips with ride scores averaging 83.67 points. They should battle it out to the right and into the young-guns hand.
Robert Hicks on Big Bang Theory (Hall Rodeo Company):
Big Bang Theory has been ridden just once in his PBR career, but most riders make it to within a second or two of the whistle. Hicks recently returned to PBR Australia competition and has recorded back to back Top-8 finishes. The bull turned back into a left-handed spin last time we saw him buck in Burnett Heads, and that should suit the Grafton bull rider. Hicks will be fired up to ride well in front of his home town fans.
Aaron Kleier on SweetPro’s Chemical Weapon (Kasper Bucking Bulls):
This matchup will be the third time that Kleier and Chemical Weapon have faced off in PBR competition. The 20-year-old emerged the victor on both occasions with two 86.5-point rides during his 2018 championship season. Chemical Weapon has a rider-friendly action around to the right, but he tends to get stronger as the clock progresses, which results in most riders coming unstuck in the second half of the ride.
Round 2 Matchups
Ethan Watts on Broken Halo (TnR Bucking Bulls):
This matchup should be very competitive between an inform bull rider and a seldom ridden bull. Watts has been one of the form riders of the tour over the past month, riding three of his last four bulls and claiming his maiden PBR event win. We haven’t seen Broken Halo covered since Shepparton earlier this season where the bull was slightly off his game. He is expected to turn back to the right, and that should suit Watts.
Lachlan Richardson on Wild Paint (TnR Bucking Bulls):
Right-handed riders have accounted for two of the three qualified rides aboard Wild Paint this season despite the bull preferring a left-handed spin. His first look to the right before turning back away from Richardson’s hand should put the Gresford cowboy in a sweet spot to complete the ride. Richardson went 0-for-2 last weekend in Cunnamulla, and he should be hungry to bounce back here against a bull he would have seen many times.
Cliff Richardson on Twisted X (Maynes Bucking Bulls):
Richardson has struggled to find consistency through the middle of the PBR Australia season but he gets an excellent chance to get the ball rolling here on a familiar bull. The 27-year-old rode Twisted X at Bendigo in 2018 for a round winning 85.5 points. Expect the pair to do battle around to the right, not far from the chute and look for Richardson to add some flair in the closing stages of the fight.
Fraser Babbington on Wrangler’s Volatile (Kasper Bucking Bulls):
Babbington has competed in just a hand full of events so far this season but returns to Australia to make a run at PBR Australia’s Grand Finals. The Kiwi split the win at Newcastle at his last start, going 2-for-3. After starting his career off with seven buck-offs from his first eight trips, cowboys have covered Volatile in two of his last three outs. The bull prefers a left-handed spin which will be away from Babbington’s hand.
Aaron Kleier on Wrangler’s Mystery (Kasper Bucking Bulls):
Mystery has fast become a rider favourite on the Monster Energy Tour this season. Four cowboys have recorded qualified rides from five attempts. Kleier is one of those riders that has tasted success on Mystery after they combined for 86.5 points at Newcastle last month. The bull tends to have excellent tempo which gives both left and right-handed riders a chance to make the whistle, and that makes Kleier a firm favourite here.