The PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour heads back to where it all began this afternoon for the 2020 Rockhampton Invitational inside the arena at the Great Western Hotel.
With just eight events remaining until the 2020 PBR Australia Grand Finals, time is running out for riders to position themselves inside the Top-22 on the National Standings Leaderboard, or to get their name in the conversation for a Gold Buckle.
There are plenty of rematch opportunities for the cowboys scattered throughout the daysheets for both events. Many of which are on the quick back up from last weekend in Mackay where the bulls finished on top, allowing a riding percentage of just 21.05% across the two events.
Here are my highlight matchups for both the afternoon and evening sessions:
Event 1 – Round 1 Matchups
Jackson Gray on Bucksnort (Wallace Bucking Bulls):
We will kick things off with a rematch from the second event in Mackay last Saturday night. Bucksnort got the better of Gray on that occasion, but the Barcaldine talent wasn’t far off reaching the whistle with the clock stopping at 6.74 seconds. The bull prefers to take a couple of leaps out to clear the gate, settles into a left-handed spin, and he tends to increase the tempo as the ride progresses. With that pattern, he will once again be into the 19-year-old’s hand, and Gray will look in good shape for a long time, but can he hang in there and make amends when the bull hits full pace? I think so.
Zane Hall on Gee Whiz (Three Sixty Rodeo Company):
This will be the first time that these two have matched up in PBR Australia competition, but I think that they would be quite familiar with each other. It was a disappointing stop in Mackay for Hall, who went 0-for-3 but he went close to getting a good one ridden in the second event. The form he showed during that trip should hold up well against Gee Whiz. The bull likes to get clear of the chute and after a brief look to the right, turn back to the left and buck with excellent timing. That kind of trip looks like it will suit the 18-year-old Athol bull rider down to the ground.
Aaron Kleier on Drag Iron (Dunne Bulls):
Last season at Mount Isa, we saw Kleier and Drag Iron go head to head for a round winning 89-point performance. I am not sure we will see a score that high on this occasion, but I think we will see a score. This bull can be a handful if the rider takes his time getting set, but the 22-year-old rarely spends too long in the chutes, and we should see them get out clean. Kleier is 5-for-8 at the last two tour stops and has been getting them ridden in either direction. I think the bull prefers to have a look to the right, before turning back to the left, and that should put him right into Kleier’s wheelhouse, allowing the Clermont bull rider to finish the ride strong.
Lawson Nobbs on Woomera (Dunne Bulls):
As we enter the fourth PBR Australia tour stop since the restart, I did not think that we would see Nobbs ranked 24th in the Standings having bucked off all six of his bulls. But the Moura cowboy looks to be on the improve and I think we will see him record a strong result sooner rather than later. Woomera likes to take a big look to the right before turning back and entering an anti-clockwise spin. He was ridden in his debut trip by the left-handed Kurt Shephard for 83 points at Caboolture, but he has since gone on to buckoff three straight right-handed riders. This bull looks a much better fit for the lefties and a confidence booster for the 23-year-old.
Lachlan Richardson on Oooh Yah (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls):
I haven’t seen much of Oooh Yah as the majority of his trips have been at Touring Pro events in Western Queensland. He has been ridden in 3 of his 7 trips, and there have been some solid scores posted. The right-handers account for the last two scores with Nathan Burtenshaw marked 83 points at Mount Isa in 2018 and Brady Fielder marked 86.5 in the same arena last season. Richardson has been hard to buck off in the past twelve months, and the break in the season did little to slow him down. Since the Monster Energy Tour resumed the 27-year-old has ridden 66% of his bulls, and with the statistics appearing to be in his favour for this matchup, it is hard to tip against him.
Braydon Wellby on Sick an Twisted (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls):
The Townsville cowboy looked exceptionally good in his 2-for-3 return to PBR Australia competition in Bundaberg a fortnight ago. He bucked off in his only opportunity at Mackay last weekend, but I doubt that will do much to dent the confidence of Wellby. He looks to have drawn well here. Sick an Twisted has been ridden in 50% of his outs, with 4 of the 6 of the qualified rides resulting in a round win. This bull can turn back in either direction, with his recent preference being a spin to the left. That will be away from the 23-year-old’s riding hand, but Sick an Twisted sticks close to the chutes and his rhythm and action gives all riders a chance.
Event 2 – Round 1 Matchups
Lachlan Slade on Western Sky (Kleier Bucking Bulls):
I like both of the 26-year-old’s matchups in Rockhampton, but this looks the better of the two. Slade made his first appearance of 2020 last weekend in Mackay following a 10-month layoff due to injury. He went 0-for-2 with a pair of 3-second buck offs, but this matchup looks an excellent opportunity for the 26-year-old to get back in the groove and post a score. Western Sky has given up 3 scores in his 4 PBR Australia trips with lefties and righties getting in on the action. I think this bull prefers a right-handed spin, which will be into the Tamworth cowboy’s hand at a nice tempo. Any score around the 84.5 points we saw Mitch Paton score in Cairns last year or Lachlan Richardson’s 84 points in Bundaberg will place Slade well for the Championship Round.
Lane Mellers on 25 to Life (Dunne Bulls):
Mellers rode very well last weekend to pick up the Event 1 win in Mackay, and that will be excellent for his confidence going into a matchup like this. I think this ride will show us exactly where he is at. 25 to Life is expected to turn back away from the Mundubbera talent’s hand, and that is something that Mellers has struggled with since the competition restart, going 1-for-6 in the anti-clockwise direction. Right-handed riders account for 2 of the 3 scores aboard this bull with all scores in the low-to-mid 80-point range. I am willing to side with the 21-year-old whose hard work and extra miles seem to be paying off.
Sam Woodall on Iron Jacket (Wallace Bucking Bulls):
Iron Jacket gives every rider a chance and Woodall gets his shot at posting a good score here. While right-handers are 8-for-13 aboard Iron Jacket, most of those rides were from the left delivery where he preferred a right-handed spin. But since switching to the right chutes late last season, the bull has mostly turned back to the left but kept the speed and rhythm that makes him ridable. The Heywood bull rider keeps improving as the weeks progress and he has ridden one bull at each stop since the restart. This looks an excellent opportunity for the 22-year-old to stick to one away from his hand and to contend for another round win.
Lachlan Richardson on Freckles Brown (Wallace Bucking Bulls):
Richardson was one of two riders last weekend in Mackay to post a qualified ride aboard Freckles Brown, with himself and Lane Mellers posting 83-point scores in the Championship Round of each event. This will be another good test for the seven-time PBR World Finals qualifier with the bull swapping to the left delivery. We have not seen this setup for over a year so we will have to wait and see what the result is. The bull doesn’t seem to have a set trip, but he is good at maintaining momentum and is strong in either direction. He can throw a change of direction in as well, which will keep the Ariat Australia cowboy on his toes.
Aaron Kleier on Crack The Latch (Dittmann Bucking Bulls):
Since making his PBR Australia debut back at the Bundaberg Invitational, Crack The Latch has put together four powerful performances. His average bull score is up over 42-points and the average buck off time is just 2.75 seconds. We have also seen the bull turn back in both directions, but we will see just where this bull is here in Rockhampton with the defending PBR Australian National Champion climbing aboard. Kleier has a bunch of these types of bulls littered through his ride history, with many unridden for 4-6 outs before drawing the Kent Earth Moving and Equipment Hire bull rider. This should be an entertaining matchup.
Jack McArthur on POA Lock n Load (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
The last time we saw the 25-year-old compete was in Bundaberg, and things didn’t go his way in the chutes, but a week earlier in Caboolture, McArthur looked excellent in his season debut. POA Lock n Load is one of the most honest and reliable draws in this round. He has been covered in 4 of his last 7 trips dating back to the 2019 PBR Australia Grand Finals with ride scores averaging 87.31 points. The bull tends to prefer a spin to the right to begin before reversing mid-ride. The initial rotation will be into the Cooyar talent’s hand, but McArthur will need to hustle to ensure he is in good shape when the change if direction arrives.