Singleton cowboy Cody Heffernan has been crowned Australia's best bull rider.
Heffernan put on a performance of a lifetime in the PBR Monster Energy Tour grand finals in Townsville on November 25 and 26 to win the event and the 2022 PBR Australia National title.
In a year that proved every ride counts, he claimed the national title from Queenslander Aaron Kleier by a mere 2.5 points.
"I still can't wrap my head around how this year has panned out.... walked away from Townsville as the 2022 PBR Australian Champion and grand finals champion," Heffernan said.
"This season has been such an emotional rollercoaster and I have so many people to thank."
Those he did thank was new wife Alexandra, his family who has "believed and supported me since day one", mates that have helped him at events and in the practice pen throughout the year, the bullfighters and his sponsors.
"This veteran will be back next year," Heffernan said.
The season finale of the Professional Bull Riders Australia, one of the closest in its history, came down to the wire in the championship round on Saturday.
Starting the event 72.5 points behind reigning champion Kleier, who has remained in the lead all season, Heffernan dominated night two by covering all three of his bulls in front of a sold-out crowd at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre.
Unable to cover Bang and Grind (Kleier Bucking Bulls) and Mystery (MJ/Keliher Bucking Bulls) on night one, 33-year-old Heffernan went on to put on a bull riding masterclass that kept the entire arena on their feet and asserted his dominance on the sport's biggest night.
In round three, Heffernan posted his first score of the grand finals with an 86.5 on Blondies Bomber (MJ/Keliher Bucking Bulls).
The 2016 national champion then bettered his score in round four, riding End Game (Dunne Bulls) for 87.5 points, and moved within 42.5 points of Kleier in the national standings.
The Townsville crowd were on the edge of their seats after Kleier posted a 90-point ride on Mystery, the bull Heffernan bucked off in round two the night before.
However, the Tamworth Iron Cowboy event winner dug deep with his third 8-second ride of the night atop Cattle King Boogers Beach (Dittmann Bucking Bulls).
The 2021 YETI Bull of the Year was tamed by Heffernan, garnering him 92 points, the highest score of the event.
This launched him into first place on the event leaderboard, overtaking Lachlan Richardson from Gresford.
"My grand finals weekend was decent. I had a lot of fun and rode three out of my five bulls. Finished a close second which has fired me up for the 2023 season," Richardson said.
The 30 year old entered his ninth PBR Australia grand finals in excellent form, having ridden three of his last five bulls on tour to pick up a top five finish in Tamworth and a touring pro win at Deepwater in November.
On being one of the tightest finishes in PBR Australia history, Richardson said: "The highlight for me, I think, was just that it all came down till the last bull was bucked."
Following Heffernan's ride on Cattle King Boogers Beach, Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre then held its collective breath to find out whether Kleier would claim a fifth consecutive national title or if Heffernan would earn his second golden buckle.
Ultimately just 2.5 points separated the two riders, with Heffernan reigning supreme and taking home the title and the $68,500 payday.
"I can't really remember it, I was just hanging on," Heffernan said of his ride on Cattle King Boogers Beach.
"I knew I had to ride him and do anything after Aaron rode that bull (Mystery). I just knew I had to ride him if I wanted to have a shot at winning it."
Other Hunter young guns that showed their stuff in the grand final event was Thomas Hudson from Dungog, Jono Couling and Trefor Sproule from Singleton.
The Dungog young gun, aged 22, posted his career-best finish in Tamworth, where he finished second in the aggregate standings at Iron Cowboy.
In his final debut in Townsville, he rode a previously unridden bull to kick off his night and then covered a handy one in the short go despite being left with the last bull in the draft.
He attended 13 events in the 2022 season and finished 12th.
Couling, 29, is another rider that made his finals debut in Townsville.
He found some form in the weeks leading up the the finals and drew one of the most rider-friendly bulls in PBR Australia competition - Super Natural.
The Singleton talent went two for two at the final regular season tour stop in Deepwater to climb into a qualification spot for the finals.
Couling rode in 16 events this season, finishing 29th in the standings.
Sproule, 29, rode in night one of the grand finals but was taken out on night two by injury.
His season best placing was second at the Caboolture Invitational in July.
In the bullpen, Dittmann Bucking Bulls capped off a dominant year, taking home the YETI Grand Finals Bulls Team, Contractor of the Year and Roid Rage taking out the YETI Finals High Point Bull of the Event as well as Bucking Bull of the Year.
Lightning (CF7 Bucking Bulls) was crowned the YETI Rookie Bull of the Year and Koumala's Qynn Andersen was crowned Rookie Rider of the Year, finishing fourth on the national standings on 645 points.