Former South Pacific champions John Green and Steve Glasson were knocked out while several other big names survived a major fright on yesterday's opening day of fours competition.
Seventy-eight teams played off in 20 sections at five Illawarra clubs, with two-time South Pacific Player of the Carnival John Green among the big-name casualties at headquarters Fairy Meadow BC.
Green and partners lost their second match to Taren Point's Matt Miles, with Murray Chapman, also from Taren Point, taking section two on shot differential, after both he and Green won two of their three games.
"In our match Matty [Miles] played some bombs and deserved the win," said Green, the fours champion in 2003 and 2011.
"Anything can happen on day one in the South Pacific."
Green, who has won the South Pacific pairs four times and singles crown in 2010, was the centre of one of the funniest moments of the opening day - delivering a wrong bias bowl.
"It happens. Fortunately I played it with some pace and it didn't cause a problem," Green joked.
Meanwhile, at Corrimal BC, Australian bowls legend Steve Glasson - the South Pacific singles champion in 2009 and defending pairs champion with his son Ben - were knocked out in section 12 after losing their first two games.
Gymea's Alan Smith played superb bowls to take the section with two wins and a draw.
At Wiseman Park BC, four-time Player of the Carnival, Shane Garvey trailed 15-13 heading into the final end of his section-deciding clash against Figtree RSL teenager Dylan Skinner, but survived to win a thriller.
Great play by partners Jamie Mitchell (lead), Jesse Noronha (second) and Matt McIntyre (third) had Garvey holding three shots on the final end, as he and Australian under-18s star Skinner prepared to play their final two bowls.
Skinner couldn't quite turn the tables, leaving Garvey to claim the key match of section 13.
"Dylan played well and for my team Jamie [Mitchell] was outstanding," Garvey said.
"It was close all game and could have gone either way. If you do well in this tournament you always look back on one match when you scraped over the line and know that was a turning point."
Among the other highlights from day one was Warilla's Jeremy Henry taking section 16 at Kiama with one win by one shot, another by three shots, plus a draw.
In the 20 sections just six teams won all three games - an indication of just how tight play was in the near perfect conditions.
The 20 section winners advanced to the post sectional round at Fairy Meadow BC on Sunday.
The carnival continues this morning with more than 200 players in singles in 53 sections. Fairy Meadow will host nine sections with feature players including Steve Glasson (section 9), Skinner (section 6) and Scott Bateup (section 3).
Defending champion Garvey faces a tough clash against Warilla's Wes Falconer in his section at Wiseman Park, while other matches will be played at Kiama, Albion Park, Oak Flats, Warilla, Windang, Dapto Citizens, Dapto, Towradgi Park, Corrimal, Bellambi, Bulli, Thirroul and Jamberoo bowling clubs.