Day one of the South Pacific Bowls Carnival proved a mixed bag for the favourites yesterday, with a number of high-profile contenders in the fours draw failing to advance beyond the first round.
The highly fancied Warilla young guns team skipped by Aaron Teys was the first high-profile casualty, going down in round one and losing their section to a composite Sydney team skipped by Jimmy Green.
The defending champions from Windang, skipped by Rick Malley, along with teammate Geoff Walker, also failed to advance after going down to Albion Park in their section.
Carnival chief Brian Gibson said both high-profile exits were surprising.
"I would have thought Windang would have won their section, so it is a surprise to see last year's winners go straight out," Gibson said.
"It was a bit of a shock there in section one with the [Warilla] team of Noronha, Mitchell, McIntyre and Teys.
"Three of them are real up and comers and some of our better younger players, so it was a bit of a surprise they didn't win their section."
The top Warilla team skipped by world No 2 Jeremy Henry were also forced to contend with an early challenge after being placed in section eight alongside the Dapto Citizens team skipped by Brendan Aqualina.
Both teams were touted as pre-tournament favourites so their first-up match with Warilla was highly anticipated.
Henry's team went on to win the match and their section and will be one of the top contenders for the overall crown.
"That was a tough section, but once they won that first game they were in the box seat," Gibson said.
Gibson expects some more upsets when singles play begins today under a format that leaves the big-name players at risk in the early going.
"Once they get past the first day they're hard to beat because then it's a straight knockout style game, but the superstars are vulnerable today," Gibson said.
"In this sort of format it's not a full game so anything can happen.
"That's the beauty of it because you do get a lot of upsets."
He said Henry and last year's finalists John Green and Shane Garvey will be the prime contenders when the singles starts today.
"Shane Garvey and John Green played off in the singles last year," he said.
"John's actually got a pretty tough section because there was a pull-out and Chris Green, who's a very good bowler, has come in there.
"That makes it a lot tougher for John.
"Shane Garvey has got a pretty good draw and Jeremy Henry is another one on paper who should get through."
Gibson expected Garvey and Robert Smith to be the pairs team to beat tomorrow.