Shane Lowry produced his first bogey-free round for five months to join Gareth Maybin in leading the Irish challenge in the BMW Italian Open.
But while Damien McGrane shot a sublime 65 to make the four under par cut with two shots to space, Peter Lawrie had to birdie three of his last four holes to survive on the mark thanks a second successive 70.
Simon Thornton was the only Irish player to miss out on the weekend action at Royal Park Golf and Country Club (www.royalparkgolf.it) just a few miles outside Turin
But the quartet that did make it still have a chance of lifting the €250,000 top prize with Lowry and Maybin just five strokes behind leader Richard Bland on England on seven under par.
Despite an early double bogey at the par-three fifth, Maybin added a 71 to his opening 66 to share 22nd place before afternoon starter Lowry missed just four greens in a five under 67.
Not only that, the Clara man kept a bogey off his card for the first time since the second round of the Volvo China Open on April 20.
McGrane also produced the goods on a day of low scoring, firing eight birdies and just one bogey in a 65 that represented his lowest round since he opening with a 65 in the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco March.
At the sharp end of the leaderboard, 39-year old Bland birdied his last three holes to card a 66 and lead by a stroke on 12 under from France’s Grégory Bourdy, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, South Africa’s Garth Mulroy and Scot Marc Warren.
As well as trying to secure a first tour win - he was beaten in a four-way play-off for the 2002 Murphy’s Irish Open at Fota Island - Bland is 126th in the Race to Dubai and struggling to keep his card.
“I’ve had a tough couple of years, but that’s behind me now and I’m just trying to move forward and improve every day,” said Bland, who had to go the Qualifying School last year to retain his playing privileges for this season.
“When it wasn’t going my way on the front nine, I didn’t panic. I knew there were chances out there and it was just a question of waiting. I don’t go for the panic button which I might’ve done five or six years ago.
“There are still 36 holes to go - all it is right now is a great position. There are great players behind me and it’s low scoring. I’ll probably have to shoot ten under from here, but that’s a good thing. You’ve got to keep making birdies, you have to keep your foot on the accelerator.”
Having birdied the first Bland could have become frustrated on a day of low scoring when he parred the next nine, but after gains at the 11th and 14th, an approach to six feet at the 16th sparked his tremendous finish.
“It was a strange day because I birdied the first then struggled to get anything going,” he added. “I missed a couple of chances and struggled to get the pace of the greens.”
Ryder Cup-bound Nicolas Colsaerts (67), Francesco Molinari (69) and Martin Kaymer (66) all made it through to the weekend at six, seven and eight under par respectively.