The opening night of the 2019 PBR Australia Grand Finals features Rounds 1 and 2 of the competition with superstars on both sides of the draw.
While the National Championship is down to two riders, the Grand Finals Event Title looks wide open, and all cowboys will be eager to get their weekend started with a bang, so expect some fireworks.
Here are my must-see matchups:
Round 1 Matchups
Cliff Richardson on Watch This (Kleier Bucking Bulls):
Richardson returns to Australia after riding two bulls at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas last week. He will be the first right-handed rider to attempt Watch This with the lefties going 2-for-3. The bull appears to buck at quite a good tempo which should set Richardson up well to post a qualified ride.
Brady Fielder on Bud Buster (Kasper Bucking Bulls and JD Bucking Bulls):
Bud Buster has only been covered once in PBR competition, and that was by Ethan Watts for 88-points on his way to winning at Burnett Heads. He likes to leave the chutes strong and will turn back to the right. Fielder has been almost unbeatable into his hand this year, and this looks an excellent chance for him to shake off the jetlag and post a score.
Lane Mellers on Scene of the Crash (Wallace Bucking Bulls):
This meeting will be the first time that the pair have drawn each other on a PBR daysheet, but Mellers and Scene of the Crash would be quite familiar with each other. The bull hasn’t been ridden since Mount Isa in 2018 while Mellers has posted four Top-3 finishes in his last six events. The pair should do battle around to the right.
Aaron Kleier on Gangatino (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls and MJ Bucking Bulls):
This matchup looks an interesting one for left-handed Kleier, and it could go a long way in securing him a second successive PBR Australian National Championship. Gangatino is 0-for-4 against right-handed riders and is unridden in three attempts by left-handed riders. The lefties have gone close with all buck off times occurring past the mid-point. He leaves the chute jumping high in the air and then settles down to the right. Kleier will be coming in hot off the back of his perfect night in Adelaide last weekend to score one for the lefties.
Fraser Babbington on Cattle King King’s Ransom (Dittmann Bucking Bulls):
Earlier this week, the 2015 PBR Australian National Champion confirmed that this will be his last event and he will look to get it started right against King’s Ransom. This bull has given up three round-wins in his nine career PBR outs. The latest was to Budd Williamson for 86.5 points in Mackay. He will be strong and around to the right, just how Babbington likes them.
Lachlan Richardson on Cattle King Ted (Dittmann Bucking Bulls):
Richardson and Ted will go up against each other for the third time in PBR competition with the bull claiming the victory in their past two bouts during the first half of the ride. This bull has been ridden just the once in his career and has posted 42.5+ points in his previous five trips. The odds might be against Richardson, but if he can put it together under the bright lights, the pair could combine for a ton of points.
Eduardo Aparecido on Rambo (Dittmann Bucking Bulls):
Rambo looks to be a tricky opponent for the right-handed Brazilian in the opening round. This bull has been out just twice this season and posted two outstanding 43.5-point trips. He turned back to the left on both occasions. Aparecido comes down under off the back of a pretty good World Finals where he was 90+ twice into his hand, but he will have to get it done the other way here.
Kaique Pacheco on Crackalackin (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls):
Crackalackin hasn’t turned in his best performances in his last two outs, but his pattern has remained quite consistent. He allowed a score to Brady Fielder at Queanbeyan and was around to the right, which will be into the 2018 PBR World Champion’s hand. This will be Pacheco’s first official PBR ride since June, and it looks an excellent opportunity for him to shake off some rust and post an opening-round score.
Round 2 Matchups
Mitch Paton on Get Ya Freak On (Diamond J Rodeo Co.):
Get Ya Freak On has had just the one trip in PBR competition and he carried Lawson Nobbs to 85.5 points in Mackay. On that occasion, he put in a fake to the left before turning to the right with a good rhythm to his action. That should suit the Paton who made his return from Injury in Adelaide with an impressive 2-for-3 performance.
Troy Wilkinson on oOh! Call Me Joe (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls):
This pair of veterans met up earlier this year at the Royal Easter Show with Call Me Joe coming away with the victory in 1.31 seconds and a 44-point bull score. Wilkinson is travelling much better now than he was back in May and will be looking for revenge. The 2017 PBR Australian National Champion looked back to his best in Adelaide last weekend, and while Call Me Joe will turn back away from his hand; we have seen left-handers Kurt Shephard and Aaron Kleier get the job done this season.
Justin Robards on POA Fully Locked & Loaded (Dittmann Bucking Bulls):
Fully Locked & Loaded heads the 2019 PBR Australia Champion Bucking Bull standings and is almost a guaranteed round win if you can get him ridden. That has only happened once this season by Brady Fielder in Mackay for 89-points. All six qualified rides that this bull has allowed have been to right-handed riders, which is good news for Robards. The bad news is this bull has averaged a 44.25-point bull score in his last six outs, but he does build as the ride progresses, so if Robards can keep his seat he has a shot.
Eduardo Aparecido on Slam n Jam (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls and MJ Bucking Bulls):
Aparecido has drawn a second bull that is expected to turn back away from his hand here, and Slam n Jam has bucked off 27 straight riders. We have seen the bull turn back both ways in the past, but he has tended to favour a left-handed spin in his last few trips. Since his trips here in the 2018 Grand Finals, he has averaged a bull score of 43.08 points with clock stopping at 3.66 seconds.
Lachlan Richardson on King Kong (Kleier Bucking Bulls):
Richardson is the only rider to post a score aboard this bull in PBR competition, and that was inside this building back in 2017 when he was marked 87.75 points. King Kong has since bucked off nine-straight cowboys with his average bull score coming in at 44 points for his last four trips. He will be around to the right and into Richardson’s hand which gives him a chance at remaining perfect aboard the bull.
Brady Fielder on POA Palooka (Dittmann Bucking Bulls):
I would have to say that this is the matchup I am most looking forward to on the opening night. Palooka has been ridden just three times in his 43-out career. In his past five trips, he has averaged a bull score of 44.40 points. Fielder and Palooka met at Last Cowboy Standings earlier this season, and the bull took the win in 5.25 seconds. Fielder might have been shut out in Vegas last week but returning home with that experience under his belt and added to the familiarity of home means this matchup becomes a flip of the coin. Watch them battle it out around to the right.
Kaique Pacheco on Iron Jacket (Wallace Bucking Bulls):
Iron Jacket is a fantastic draw in any round because he is guaranteed to deliver a high score and a probable round placing. This bull can turn back either way, but his outstanding tempo means that almost any rider can make the whistle. In Iron Jacket’s past two trips, Aaron Kleier and Lachlan Richardson were marked 87 and 88 points to post runner-up finishes in their respective rounds. That gives us a good indication of where Pacheco should land following this ride.
Aaron Kleier on oOh! Night Hawk (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls):
We close out the round with Kleier versus Night Hawk for the third time. These two have split their previous matchups with the bull winning in Adelaide back in 2017, but Kleier finished on top at Tamworth last year for 84.5 points. Night Hawk’s regular trip is around to the left which suits Kleier who is unstoppable into his hand with scores pushing for a round placing.