Campbell, who lost a playoff for this title twelve months ago, came from one shot of the 36 hole pace with a round of 67 but it was Lawson, with six birdies in his last seven holes today, who stormed into a share of the lead late in the afternoon.
Lawson’s round of 64 was not the best of that day, that honour going to South Australian Anthony Murdaca whose nine under par 62 has him in a share of 7th.
Anthony Quayle also made up ground late in his day for a round of 65 to be alone in 4th position at 12 under and just three shots off the lead.
A resurgent New Zealand veteran David Smail is in a share of 5th place with second round leader Simon Hawkes who could only manage a round of 72 on a day of otherwise low scoring.
“I really struggled reading the greens out there today,” said Campbell. “I had a lot that looked dead straight and it was just figuring out if they were breaking a little bit left or a little bit right. Just about every one I got wrong so I feel like I've left a lot out there today.
“There were definitely a few people out there and tomorrow I know there are a few more people coming over (from his hometown of Masterton) so it's always good to get the home crowd support.”
Playing in the same group as Campbell, Lawson was aware of the crowd’s favouritism but was unperturbed as he fired 7-under 64 with his girlfriend and fellow PGA Professional Alexandra Orchard on the bag.
“I'm non-existent out there with the crowd but Ali claps me every now and then,” said Lawson with a wry smile.
“They enjoy Ben. I nearly holed one on 16 and didn't get much, then Ben hit one into about 10 feet. And the crowd went wild.
“But that's just how it is, I'll just go out and do my thing and hopefully it's good enough tomorrow,” added Lawson, whose round featured 10 birdies, the pick of the bunch coming on the 17th hole.
Millar, a former winner of this event when it was played in Auckland, is poised to add his second New Zealand title in six weeks having won the Rebel Sports Masters in Auckland in January.
Given the potential for low scoring on the Hokowhitu layout at the Manawatu Golf Club then many players are still in with a chance tomorrow.
Fifteen players are within six shots of the lead and all may well feel they still have a chance to take the title.
SIR NICK FALDO PITCHING OVER BUNKERS
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