The best-of-three PBR Origin series gets underway tonight with Queensland out to defend their 2019 title after they defeated New South Wales in Sydney 8 rides to 5 in the inaugural event.
The Top-10 bull riders from each state will not only be facing off against each other, but they will also be taking on the rankest bucking bulls in the country.
Here are the matchups I am looking forward to seeing:
Round 1 Matchups
Troy Wilkinson (NSW) on Call Me Joe (TnR Bucking Bulls)
In the first rider matchup of the night, we will see the two team captains go head-to-head. This matchup is an interesting one for Wilkinson, with the bull holding a 2-nil advantage across their careers. Both buck offs came at events in 2019, and both were recorded in under 2-seconds. The Upper Horton veteran will be hoping to reverse those results and put his NSW side on the board early in Round 1. Call Me Joe is expected to turn back to the right and away from his riding hand, but he will give Wilkinson a chance to post his first qualified ride of 2021 and some solid numbers towards his team’s total.
Aaron Kleier (QLD) on Cliffhanger (TnR Bucking Bulls / Richardson)
The three-time National Champion sits atop the National Standings with a 5-for-8 riding record in 2021, so he has picked up where he left off last season. Cliffhanger was ridden in his PBR debut in 2019 for 84 points by Cliff Richardson at Tamworth, but he has since gone on to buck off his next three riders. The bull seems to prefer an anti-clockwise spin which will be into Kleier’s left riding hand, but he can mix things up, so the Clermont talent will have to remain alert. Either way, I think the Queensland Captain will start a deserved favourite in this matchup.
Joseph Down (NSW) on Told Ya So (TnR Bucking Bulls)
Told Ya So looks like a nice matchup for Down, who is searching for his first score of the 2021 season. We have seen this bull ridden twice so far in his short career, with both scores going the way of right-handed riders. The latest qualified ride went to Ty Thomson at Marrabel last year for 86-points. This bull looks to prefer a right-handed spin, and that should give the Muswellbrook bull rider an excellent shot at posting a score in the mid-80 point range.
Sam Woodall (NSW) on Chemical Weapon (MJ Bucking Bulls / Keliher Bucking Bulls)
Woodall made his return from a long injury layoff at last month’s event in Rockhampton, where he bucked off in the long round. Here he has drawn Chemical Weapon, and this will be the second time they have drawn each other. The previous occasion was at the 2019 Iron Cowboy in Tamworth, where the Luddenham cowboy was bucked off in 6.10 seconds. The bull has given up 11 qualified rides from his 26 PBR Australia trips, with Lachlan Slade marked 81 points at Rockhampton. This opportunity is a good one that Woodall can’t let slip by, with the bull expected to turn back to the right and into his hand with excellent tempo.
Dan Ruhland (QLD) on Amigo (MJ Bucking Bulls / Keliher Bucking Bulls)
The Mount Walker young-gun has put together a couple of nice rides so far this season, and he gets an excellent chance to add another score here. Amigo was ridden in his first two PBR Australia trips by right-handed riders, but he has since gone on to buck off his next four challengers. It has been a while since we have seen this bull. He has made a right turn from the chute in the past, and he does tend to stay relatively flat as he makes his rounds. If the right-handed Ruhland can remain in good shape early, he should be able to finish strong.
Brady Fielder (QLD) on Roid Rage (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
This could prove to be a crucial late-round matchup for Queensland. We have seen Roid Rage buck at all four PBR Australia events so far this season, and he enters this matchup undefeated with an average bull score of 42.88 points and buck off averaging 3.38 seconds. Fielder will be his most formidable opponent so far, and the Clermont bull rider has been riding well so far in 2021, covering his last three long round draws. This bull has shown us he can turn back in either direction, but I think that Fielder is seeing them well enough to end the bull’s unridden run.
Round 2 Matchups
Lawson Nobbs (QLD) on Berzerk (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls / MJ Bucking Bulls)
The Moura talent kicked off his season with a win at the NQ Elite Touring Pro event, and he backed that up with another strong finish at the previous tour stop in Rockhampton last month. This will be the third time he has drawn Berzerk, and they enter this matchup with one victory each. Nobbs was 83.75 points at the 2020 Grand Finals, and the bull won in 4.77 seconds at the 2019 event in Mackay. We have seen the bull produce many different trips in his career, but if it involves turning left and into Nobb’s hand, we could see another solid score posted.
Thomas Hudson (NSW) on Meet Ya Maker (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls / MJ Bucking Bulls)
Meet Ya Maker has given up three qualified rides from his six PBR Australia trips, and left-handed bull riders are a perfect 2-for-2. This statistic bodes well for the Dungog cowboy, who is only in the early stages of his bull riding career. This bull likes to mix up his trips, and we have seen him change direction mid-ride. He gives all riders a chance to make it deep into the ride, and I expect Hudson to be on top in this matchup as the whistle nears.
Cody Heffernan (NSW) on Gangatino (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls / MJ Bucking Bulls)
Heffernan looks to be slowly but surely warming to the tasks set in front of him as he continues his come back from his long stint on the sidelines with injury. Here he faces Gangatino, who has allowed five qualified rides in his career. All five of those scores belong to good right-handed riders. The Singleton veteran fits that mould, and he looks an excellent chance to complete the ride. The bull tends to favour a right-handed spin, but he can take a jump or two to clear the chutes and even look left before he makes the turn back.
Macaulie Leather (QLD) on Big Buck Hunter (ST Bucking Bulls)
Big Buck Hunter has been a great bull to a lot of riders. He has given up scores in more than half of his PBR Australia trips, with the last four resulting in round wins. Leather will be the first left-handed rider that this bull has drawn in over three years or 11 trips. The Calliope young-gun has ridden half of his bulls so far in his rookie season, with his only defeats coming at the hands of the four high-marked bulls at the first four events of 2021. The bull prefers to enter a left-handed spin and then change direction back to the right mid-ride. This is going to be a great matchup that can deliver big numbers.
Lachlan Richardson (NSW) on Freckles Brown (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
This will be the third occasion that we will get to see these two veteran PBR Australia competitors go head-to-head. Richardson currently holds the advantage with scores of 84 and 83 points recorded last season at Rockhampton and Mackay. We have seen the Gresford bull rider buck off his last three bulls, so this prior record will be a confidence booster heading into this matchup. Freckles Brown has bucked off both of his opponents so far this season, and the 9-year-old continues to produce fantastic trips. He does prefer to turn back to the left, which will put him away from Richardson’s hand.
Kurt Shephard (QLD) on Makin 8 Bucksnort (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
The Mareeba cowboy always performs well across cup season, and he wasted no time last month at Rockhampton when he picked up the win in his 2021 season debut with a 2-for-2 performance. Makin 8 Bucksnort has been ridden just three times since making his debut during the 2020 season. Shephard owns one of those rides, scoring 86-points during Round 1 of last season’s Grand Finals in Townsville. The bull produces consistent trips, so we can assume that he will once again be around to the left and into Shephard’s riding hand.