It has been 805 days since the last time we saw PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour action in New South Wales, but tonight it returns with a big field of 26 riders set to battle it out across two long rounds of competition.
Thirty bulls will make their debut tonight, and a further fifteen bulls haven’t been seen at this level for almost two years. The majority of the riders are in a similar situation, with three cowboys making their debut and fifteen making their season debut. Many are returning to the PBR after missing almost two full seasons.
All the unknowns make this an intriguing event. Let’s look at some matchups:
Lachlan Slade on Cliffhanger (TnR Bucking Bulls/Richardson)
The Tamworth cowboy will be looking to get himself off to a fast start here after missing much of the back end of the 2021 season through injury. The last time we saw Cliffhanger was at the PBR Origin event in Brisbane last season, where Aaron Kleier was marked 85-points to finish third in the round. That was the second score recorded aboard this bull after Cliff Richardson was successful with 84-points in the bull’s debut. He tends to mix up his trips. We have seen him turn back in both directions. Either way, I expect Slade to open his night with a score.
Jake Curr on Chocolate Thunder (Yates Bucking Bulls)
When these two did battle in Melbourne at the end of 2019, the bull turned back to the right and won in 2.59 seconds. It’s not often we see Chocolate Thunder turn back in that direction, and most of his trips have been to the left. He is the most experienced bull in the round, and he has only been ridden twice, with scores going to Aaron Kleier and Kaique Pacheco during the 2018 season. Curr finished his 2021 season off with a bang, leading the Grand Finals at the halfway point with two nice rides, and he should be able to carry that momentum into 2022. If the bull decides to turn back to the left, I think that will give the Mount Isa talent a good chance at making the whistle.
Lachlan Slade on Volatile (Maynes Bucking Bulls)
Volatile has been ridden in 33.33% of his trips in PBR Australia competition, with four of those five scores resulting in a round winning score. His average bull score is the third-best of the bulls in this round at 42.80, and the average ride score recorded is 86-points. Unfortunately for the right-handed Slade, the bulls record against righties is 8-and-1, and all four of those high marked rides were made by left-handers. The bull puts a lot of effort into his first jump leaving the chute, and that’s when most riders come unstuck. If Slade can remain in good shape until the bull settles into his rhythm, he should go close to reaching the whistle.
Nathan Burtenshaw on Posting Bail (TnR Bucking Bulls)
It’s good to have Burtenshaw back home. The last time we saw the Coonamble bull rider compete inside a PBR Australia arena, he came away with a big win thanks to a 3-for-3 performance in Melbourne during the final Monster Energy Tour stop of the 2019 calendar year. Here in Round 2, he has drawn Posting Bail, who has bucked off his last six challengers. He can mix up his trips but mostly prefers a left-handed spin. That will put him away from Burtenshaw’s hand. The last time a rider made the bell was at the 2018 Last Cowboy Standing event in Brisbane, where Kurt Shephard was marked 82.5 points.
Trefor Sproule on Spokane (TnR Bucking Bulls)
We didn’t get to see much of Sproule last season, but he made a few nice rides into his hand, and I think he should get along well with Spokane here in the second round. We haven’t seen this bull face a right-handed rider for over two years, but his trips have consistently involved a clockwise spin. He was ridden for an average score of 83.97 points in his first three trips, but he has since gone on to buck off seven straight riders. The Singleton veteran gets an excellent chance to snap the bull’s streak.
Lachlan Richardson on Told Ya So (TnR Bucking Bulls)
Told Ya So looks like a very nice draw for the Gresford cowboy. He prefers a right-handed spin, his tempo is quite good, and he is far from the biggest bull in the Scone pen. He has been ridden in three of his six outs in PBR Australia competition for an average score of 84.50 points. All three of those scores belong to right-handed riders. Richardson faced the most challenging set of bulls faced by any cowboy across the five rounds of last season’s Grand Finals to round out 2021. The task to kick off his 2022 campaign appears much more manageable.