There is a potent mix of youth and experience on both sides of the draw for the 2019 Melbourne Invitational. This event will be the final stop of the calendar year for the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour, so the cowboys will be shooting for the stars to finish their year on a high.
Here are my highlight matchups for tonight:
Round 1 Matchups
Will Purcell on On Point (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls):
The Victorian has gone 1-for-8 since winning in Wodonga late last month, but this looks like a nice matchup for him to get things back on track. On Point is a veteran bucker who produces a consistent out. He has been ridden in over 35% of his trips in the PBR with most scores going to right-handed riders. We rarely see a rightie buck off under the 6-second mark. On Point is expected to fake left and turn back into Purcell’s hand at a nice tempo.
Kaique Pacheco on Hazmat (Maynes Bucking Bulls):
Hazmat gave up two scores on the Victorian leg of the Monster Energy Tour early in the 2019 season but has fought back strong to buck off his next four riders while averaging a bull score of 42.25 points. This looks a nice challenge for the bull, facing an on-fire Pacheco, who has made the whistle on six bulls from eight attempts since arriving in Australia. Hazmat does possess some tricks which will keep the World Champion on his toes as they battle around to the right.
Cody Rodeo Tyler on Amigo (Maynes Bucking Bulls):
Amigo was another bull who gave up a couple of scores early in his career to right-handed riders and has gone on to buck off two lefties in his two trips since. He is a bull that will turn back to the right, but he can be quite flat as he tries to build momentum. Tyler suffered an early elimination last weekend at Iron Cowboy in Tamworth; However, this format of competition should suit him much better, and this looks a perfect draw for him to get his night started with a qualified ride.
Bailey Woodard on Cliffhanger (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls):
Woodard is beginning to string some impressive results together. He has finished inside the Top-10 at three of his past four events run under this format. Cliffhanger made his debut against Cliff Richardson last weekend in Tamworth, and they combined for 84-points. The bull was around to the left on that occasion, and if he replicates that trip, the Dingo bull rider has a great chance recording a score in the opening round.
Lachlan Richardson on Hit Man (Woodall Rodeo Company):
Hit Man is not the smoothest bull in this pen, but the riders get by him 50% of the time, and he has given up three straight qualified rides. He has plenty of tricks in his repertoire which can see him ducking and diving his way across the pen, but he has beautiful rhythm and tends to favour a counter-clockwise spin. That will be away from Richardson’s hand, but he is in great form. The 27-year-old will be eager to bounce back from his early elimination at Iron Cowboy and back into the groove that saw him win the Grand Finals event title.
Round 2 Matchups
Kaique Pacheco on Little Hillbilly (Maynes Bucking Bulls):
We have only seen Little Hillbilly perform once in PBR Australia competition, and on that occasion, in Grafton, he turned back to the right and allowed Justin Robards to post 82.5 points. He remained quite flat for the duration of the ride but did get off the ground a few times and show glimpses of what he is capable of at his best. This is the type of bull that Pacheco should be able to cover with ease and post a possible second score.
Brady Sims on Eight Gauge (George Hempenstall):
Last weekend in Tamworth, Sims rode all three of his bulls for longer than 7.79 seconds, and I think that was a pretty good bounce back from his performance at the Grand Finals where he went 0-for-4. With Eight Gauge he will get another bull that will turn back into his hand, but Eight Gauge has allowed just the three scores from seventeen outs. He is a bull that uses his roll as his primary weapon, and he has gone on to buck off ten straight riders. There haven’t been too many left-handers attempt him, so we could be in for a show.
Nathan Burtenshaw on Train Wreck (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls):
At this event last year, Burtenshaw and Train Wreck combined for 84 points in the second round of the competition so we could see a replica of that performance. Burtenshaw is riding well and could have another qualified ride or two on the board if it wasn’t for a tough second night in the chutes at the Grand Finals. Train Wreck turned back right last time they met, but he has gone to the left as well. The one thing that remains consistent is his hop stepping action.
Rohan Markham on Wrangler’s Volatile (Kasper Bucking Bulls):
We welcome back Markham to PBR Australia competition for the first time since the 2018 PBR Australia Grand Finals. The 27-year-old has been riding well on the rodeo circuits and Volatile looks a nice matchup for him. The bull puts a lot of effort into his first jump, leaving the chute and then settles into a nice left-handed spin. Lefties are 3-for-5 against Volatile in his PBR career, and Markham has an excellent shot at improving that record.
Lachlan Slade on oOh! Call Me Joe (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls):
These pair have previously met up twice in PBR competition with Call Me Joe holding a 2-for-2 record over Slade. The bull put up 45-points in their 3.17-second matchup at Kempsey back in 2017, and at PBR Origin earlier this year, the buck off was recorded at 5.75 seconds with 43.5 points awarded. Call Me Joe seems to have lost a step or two over the past year, but he still has nice tempo and will always turn back into Slade’s hand, so it could be third time lucky for the 25-year-old.