Robin Dawson returned a second successive 71 to keep alive the Irish interest at the Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil at Terre dei Consoli Golf Club.
The Tramore professional enters the weekend harbouring Irish hopes after he fired four birdies to move to a two-under par halfway total that sees the 23-year old share 36th spot heading into the weekend.
With the cut falling at one-under, both Cormac Sharvin and Ruaidhri McGee were among those to fall just one shot shy of the passing mark.
Both players rallied with two-under par rounds of 70 on Friday to get back to parity for the tournament but despite their best efforts, the cut-line proved one too many for the fledgling pros.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Daniel Peacock (+6) and West Waterford’s Gary Hurley (+10) also missed out on the weekend.
At the top, Antoine Rozner holds a two shot lead at the halfway stage of the Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil after carding a bogey free round of 66, six under par, at Terre dei Consoli Golf Club.
Rozner, who has won twice this season at the Challenge de España and Prague Golf Challenge, put himself in pole position for his third European Challenge Tour title of the campaign to earn automatic promotion to the European Tour, after following up his opening round of 68 with another sub-70 score to move ahead of the field.
The Frenchman made seven consecutive pars to begin his second round before holing back-to-back birdie putts ahead of the turn. His consistency continued on the back nine with a further gain on the tenth hole and two more on the 13th and 14th to break away from the chasing pack before extending his lead with a final birdie of the round on the last.
With two rounds to play, Rozner is in prime position to seal a third victory and a life changing European Tour card. However, the two-time Challenge Tour winner is determined to focus on the 36 holes in front of him after an impressive day with his short game.
“I’m not thinking about everything that might happen if I win and I don’t really want to hear about it yet,” he said. “I just want to play well and focus on that, and then we’ll see what happens at the end. I’m just trying to have a good tournament.
“There wasn’t a lot of wind this morning, so I was able to take advantage of that, but I didn’t hit the ball very well and it was my short game that saved me. I made a lot of up and downs, maybe a 100 per cent in up and downs today, which is a first for me.
“My putter really saved me as well. I made a bunch of putts from between ten to 20 foot. Hopefully, I can continue that going into the weekend. It’s a great day today and I couldn’t have done any better.”
Two shots behind the Frenchman is a chasing pack of five players, including Australian Ben Eccles, Nicolai Højgaard of Denmark, England’s Matthew Jordan and day one leaders Bryce Easton and Carlos Pigem, who both carded rounds of 70, two under par.
Lorenzo Scalise leads the home charge and sits four shots behind the Frenchman after signing for a round of 71, one under par.
The third round of the Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil will begin at 7:00am local time, with Rozner teeing off at 12:10pm.
Full Scoring HERE