The Te Kuiti skip Cliff Mitchell-Burnard looms as the big threat to double world champion and hot pre-championship favourite Gary Lawson, after his team recorded three consecutive wins on the first day of the National Bowls Club fours at Rotorua.
Mitchell-Burnard showed himself to be a serious threat to Lawson's powerful Eastbourne quartet when he led his team to a win over the former Commonwealth Games rep Maurice Symes in the final match, to finish the day unbeaten.
Lawson faces Mitchell-Burnard in the first match on Saturday morning.
Lawson also scored an important win over his old rival, Canterbury's Symes, in the second round.
In the women's championship, Waihi's Dawn Adams and Mary Guldbrandson from Sunnybrae lead having survived the first day with three wins apiece.
They will meet in their first match on Saturday.