It was the matchup on everybody’s lips as the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour rolled into the Sugar City for the 2019 Mackay Invitational on Saturday.
The No. 2 ranked bull rider in the country, Brady Fielder up facing off against the front runner in the Bucking Bull of the Year race, POA Fully Locked and Loaded for the very first time.
Heading into the event, Fielder had covered nine of his last eleven bulls and won three of the previous five PBR Australia events he had entered. The 19-year-old had not finished outside of the Top-10 at an event on home soil since the second weekend of March.
POA Fully Locked & Loaded had bucked off six straight bull riders in 2019 with an average buck-off time of 4.48 seconds. The Dittmann Bucking Bulls’ superstar leads the bucking bull standings with an average bull score of 44.17 points. He had carried the previous two Mackay champions to victory with excellent ride scores of 90.5 and 89.5 points.
The pair were scheduled to do battle in the concluding stages of the Final Round and had the potential to produce one of the most exciting finishes to an event that we have seen this season.
But first, let us go back to the beginning of the 2019 Mackay Invitational to set things up.
In Round 1, it was the 2018 PBR Australian National Champion Aaron Kleier who got the riders off to a good start. The No. 1 ranked bull rider in the country put up 83 points aboard Wallace Bucking Bulls’ Cowboy Cash to hold the early lead.
Eidsvold’s Sam Woodard added his name to the leaderboard a short time later with 82 points aboard Diamond J’s Panic Stations.
Lane Mellers followed up with a qualified ride on penmate Summer Times Blues with the Mundubbera cowboy awarded 79-points for his 8-seconds work.
Brady Fielder and fellow title contender Lachlan Richardson closed out the first section of bull riding with a pair of solid 84.5-point rides. Both riders combined with Kleier Bucking Bulls to receive their scores. Fielder covered Top Deck while Richardson rode Indian Outlaw.
The bulls kicked off the second section of Round 1 with a string of buck offs before veteran Budd Williamson stopped the rot with an outstanding 86.5-point performance aboard Cattle King King’s Ransom. The Ayr cowboy made a great return from injury with a superb ride away from his hand on the Dittmann bucker. Williamson’s score would hold on for the round win.
Local bull rider Cameron McLennan added 84.5 points aboard Dittmann’s Shots to join Brady Fielder and Lachlan Richardson in a three-way split of second place in the first round.
In the final out of the round, Cliff Richardson moved into fifth place thanks to a textbook 84-point qualified ride on Dunne Bull’s Personal Space.
All five riders competing in Mackay that remain in the hunt for the Gold Buckle recorded qualified rides in Round 1. With the Gold Buckle on the line, none of those riders could afford to falter in the second and final round.
Moura’s Lawson Nobbs got Round 2 off to a quick start with 85.5 outstanding points earned on the back of Get Ya Freak On from Diamond J Rodeo Company.
Round 1 winner Budd Williamson became the first to ride two bulls after he covered Diamond J’s Disco Duck for 83-points. The score set the aggregate total to beat at 169.5 points.
Gresford’s Lachlan Richardson was the next rider to remain perfect through two rounds with a flawless 88-point ride on Iron Jacket. Richardson pushed the score to beat onto 172.5 points after he combined with Wallace Bucking Bulls’ Iron Jacket to receive his excellent score.
Bailey Woodard had the BB Print Stadium crowd on their feet with his spectacular ride aboard Kleier Bucking Bulls’ Barn Yard. The pair combined for 86.5 points which would be the third-highest score of the round.
Aaron Kleier was next to call for the gate against Watch This from Kleier Bucking Bulls. The Clermont bull rider made no mistakes, but the score of 84.5 points would not be enough to take the lead in the event. His total moved onto 167.5 points.
In the all MJ Bucking Bulls matchup with championship implications, Slam n Jam got the better of Lane Mellers, and the 2018 Rookie of the Year now appears to have slipped out of Gold Buckle contention.
It was time for the highly-anticipated matchup between Brady Fielder and POA Fully Locked and Loaded.
Fielder called for the gate, and the bull backed out before quickly settling into his consistent clockwise action. Fully Locked & Loaded continued to gather momentum which had the young-gun scrambling to keep his seat at the mid-point of the ride.
The bull looked to have gained the upper hand, but Fielder was able to make a significant correction to find his rope once again. He then finished off the trip by opening up with his outside foot as the crowd roared and hats were flung into the arena from the back of the bucking chutes.
The judges marked Fully Locked & Loaded 44 points and Fielder 45 points for an 89-point ride. The score was enough to move the Clermont bull rider into the event lead with an aggregate total of 173.5 points, a single point ahead of Lachlan Richardson.
Fielder held on to the lead through the final rides of the night, with Cliff Richardson coming down early from Dittmann’s POA Lock n Load.
Brady Fielder was introduced to the crowd as the 2019 Mackay Invitational Champion a short time later.
“It feels really good. It’s always good to get a win,” said Fielder as he packed his bullrope into his gear bag.
“I was really looking forward to that last matchup. I knew [POA Fully Locked & Loaded] would be a good bull to get on and would give me a chance to win, so it was good to get him done.”
With just four regular-season events remaining before the PBR Australia Grand Finals, it was a timely win for Fielder.
The 550-point haul propelled him to within 385.83 points of No. 1 ranked Aaron Kleier. It is the first time that any rider has been within striking distance of Kleier since the end of June.
Fielder collected the seventh PBR buckle of his fantastic rookie year, and he now sits 32nd in the PBR World Standings.
Lachlan Richardson held on for a runner up finish in the event, earning 240 points towards the PBR Australian National Standings and moving into third place. The seven-time qualifier to the PBR World Finals also jumped up eight places and into 45th spot in the world.
Budd Williamson finished third place collecting 180 points to move from 28th to 20th in the standings and now finds himself in contention to qualify for yet another PBR Australia Finals.
Aaron Kleier extended his ultra-consistent run of Top-10 finishes to 10 events. The 20-year-old added 105 points for his fourth-place finish, but the pack is closing in with the Grand Finals rapidly approaching.
Bailey Woodard was the best rider on one bull and the Dingo bull rider rounded out the Top-5 collecting 65 points.
Dittmann Bucking Bulls successfully defended their Champion Bull Team award from last season, taking out the 2019 competition.
The Paradise Outdoor Advertising trio of Fully Locked and Loaded (44.0 points), Palooka (44 .0 points) and Lock n Load (43.5 points) produced solid performances in the final three outs of the event to secure the win.
Joining POA Fully Locked and Loaded and POA Palooka on a 44.0-point bull score and sharing in the high-marked out of the night honour was Slam n Jam from Brandenburg Bucking Bulls and MJ Bucking Bulls.
The PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour now heads to the Southern Tablelands in New South Wales for the inaugural Queanbeyan Invitational this coming weekend.