Kilkenny's Mark Power bogeyed his last three holes but still carded a level par 72 to head the eight-strong Irish challenge in the African Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Glendower Golf Club in South Africa.
The two-time Irish Boys champion followed an early bogey at the fourth with four birdies in eight holes from the sixth before his late mistakes left him tied for 14th, five strokes behind Frenchman Frédéric LaCroix, who shot a five-under 67 to lead by two shots from South African James du Preez.
Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty, Castle's Alex Gleeson and Tramore's Robin Dawson are tied 18th after 73s with Massereene's Tiarnan McLarnon joint 27th after a 74, Mallow's James Sugrue 33rd following a 75, Royal Dublin's Barry Anderson 44th after a 76 and Naas' Jonathan Yates 52nd with a 77.
"It's a much tougher track than last week — a fantastic course but very tight with lightning-fast greens," said the Irish captain, John Carroll. "All the boys feel they can improve tomorrow. We are only a couple of shots behind second place in the team event so we are looking forward to tomorrow."
African Amateur Stroke Play Championship, Glendower GC (Par 72, selected scores, RSA unless stated)
67 F LaCroix (Fra); 69 J du Preez; 70 M Saulez, Y Chandra (Ind), D McIntyre, E Catherine (Fra), C Charmasson (Fra);
71 B Coetzee, L Boshoff, M Mitchell, L Albertse, N Frade, K Sharma (Ind);
72 J Schaper, D Kok, P Waring (Eng), Mark Power (Irl);
73 G McKay, C Woollam, M Vorster, J Freiburghaus (Sui), D Germishuys, Robin Dawson (Irl), Alex Gleeson (Irl), C Moralee, Caolan Rafferty (Irl);
Other Irish - 74 Tiarnan McLarnon (Irl); 75 James Sugrue (Irl); 76 Barry Anderson (Irl); 77 Jonathan Yates (Irl).
Team (3 scores to count)
1, Team France 207; 2, Team South Africa 216; 3, Team India 217; 4, Team Ireland (M Power 72, R Dawson 73, A Gleeson 73) 218; 5, Team South Africa Jnr 219; 6, Team Scotland 223; 7, Team England 225, Team Ireland 2 (T McLarnon 74, J Sugrue 75, B Anderson 76) 225; 9, Team Switzerland 228; 10, Team Mauritius 240; 11, Team Reunion 242.