The PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour returns to Rockhampton’s Great Western Hotel this evening for two long rounds of bull riding which will be followed by a Championship Round.
Riding percentages have been relatively low across the opening events of the 2022 season, and with debut athletes again featured on both sides of the daysheet, I think that trend could continue.
Here are the matchups that I am most looking forward to seeing:
Kelsey Pavlou on Midnight Hour (MJ Bucking Bulls and Keliher Bucking Bulls)
The Toora cowboy picked up a score here in the first event of the season, but he went 0-for-2 at Scone last weekend, so he should be eager to bounce back here. Midnight Hour has been covered four times in his short PBR career, with the average mark sitting just above 80-points. Three of those scores belong to right-handed riders, which bodes well for Pavlou. Look for the bull to turn back to the right and into his riding hand.
Dan Ruhland on Hollywood (Blackhall Livestock / Work Wide Contracting)
We didn’t get to see much of Hollywood in his debut trip here in December last year, but he looks like he might be a good fit for a right-handed rider. He looked to the left and appeared to want to enter a spin back to the right on that occasion. Ruhland made a fast start to his 2021 campaign but fell off the pace through the season’s final months. The Mount Walker talent has had a good break, and this bull will give him a good shot at picking up a score in his season debut.
Caiden Sandilands on Law & Order (Blackhall Livestock)
Sandilands is also making his season debut this weekend. He has been out of action for a few months after injuring his groin at the 2021 PBR Australia Grand Finals. This arena has been a happy hunting ground for the Rockhampton bull rider. Five of the last seven qualified rides he has recorded have been here on his home dirt. He faces Law & Order here in Round 1. In the bull’s debut trip on New Year’s Eve, he turned back to the left and bucked off Qynn Andersen in the first half of the ride. If he opts for an anti-clockwise spin again, Sandilands has a good opportunity to finish on top.
Lawson Nobbs on Screaming Deamon (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
This event will also serve as Nobbs’ first appearance for 2022. The Moura cowboy rode at least one bull at eleven of the fourteen events he entered last season and finished his campaign in a career-best fifth place on the National Standings Leaderboard. He faces a tough bull here in the opening round. Screaming Deamon has averaged 42.50 points a trip in his career and has only been ridden once in ten performances. That score went to Kurt Shephard for a round winning 86-points in Cairns last year. He mostly turns back to the right, but he can put in a fake to the left as he leaves the chute.
Brady Fielder on Black Tuxedo (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
All the talk this week has been about this matchup – Fielder against Black Tuxedo for the third time in PBR competition. The Clermont bull rider has kicked off his 2022 campaign on 3-for-4 riding, backing up his runner up finish here on New Year’s Eve with a win at Scone last weekend. He holds a 2-nil record over this bull with a round winning score of 86-points recorded at Newcastle in 2019 and a massive 89.75 points posted in the Championship Round at the Grand Finals last season. The bull continues to churn out quality outs and is at his best with riders who spend minimal time in the chutes. With the speed that the No. 1 ranked rider in the country can get in and out of the steel, I think we will see more big numbers posted at the whistle.
Ben Moran on Bang and Grind (Kleier Bucking Bulls)
Moran has made his way through the PBR’s Rising Stars competition, securing the 2021 championship here inside the Great Western in December. The Yeppoon young-gun gets an excellent chance to get off the mark tonight in both rounds, but I favour his second-round matchup with Bang and Grind a little more. This bull consistently turns back to the left and has been ridden three times in ten outs, with left-handed riders picking up all three scores. Joshua Jones was the last rider to make the bull, marked 84-points at Mackay last season.
Cody Heffernan on Damage Control (Kleier Bucking Bulls)
After missing much of the back-end of the 2021 season due to travel restrictions, it was good to see Heffernan back in the arena last weekend. He gritted out a solid second-place finish last weekend in Scone, making multiple trips to the re-ride pen to pick up a score in both rounds of competition. Here the Singleton cowboy goes up against Damage Control, who has been ridden twice so far in his seven-out career. We have yet to see a right-handed rider make the whistle, but Sam Woodall and Lachlan Slade did make it deep into the 8-seconds last season. He tends to mix up his trips, but he has been to the left in his past few. I don’t think it will be long until we see a score the way of a rightie.
Lane Mellers on Rambo (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
Rambo has started to consistently put it all together, averaging over 42-points a trip in the past twelve months of competition. Despite this, right-handed riders have put together an outstanding record against this bull, going a combined 4-for-4, with Dan Ruhland owning the high-marked qualified ride of 85.5 points. Mellers has spent a few months on the sideline recovering from a concussion, and it usually doesn’t take the Mundubbera cowboy long to start putting together qualified rides. So, with the bull expected to turn back to the right and into his hand, he should get every chance to post a decent score.