Adam Scott heads that group at 1 under par after his round of 70 saw him end the day just five shots from the 36 hole leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner.
Five birdies and four bogeys for Scott have him one ahead of Jason Day and Lucas Herbert at even par with Cameron Davis another shot back at 1 over and Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith and Brett Rumford at 2 over.
New Zealander Ryan Fox survived by parring the last to finish on the cutline.
Only Matt Jones amongst the Australians and Michael Hendry of the two New Zealanders will not get the play the final 36 holes.
For Scott he was both happy with his effort to date but disappointed also to drop a shot late in his round.
“It was just a shame to drop one on 15,” he said. “If I could have got it in at 2-under, I would have been fairly content with that. But if I can get off to a good start tomorrow, you can really set yourself up for a good round if you have a few under on the front.
“Then it seems like in whatever conditions, just the back plays tougher. You've just got to hang on.
Scott has highly experienced and regarded Swedish caddy Fanny Sunesson on the bag this week and was quick to sing her praises for what she has brought to “Team Scott”. Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in four of his six major championship victories and has been brought out of caddying retirement for the week.
“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting. We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.
“It's been really easy working with her the last five or six days that we've been here. I'd like to be able to put her to the test a bit over the weekend, if we can get in contention.
“I'm going to have to have a good round tomorrow to put myself in with a real chance. My game is good enough to do it. It's just a matter of doing it.”
Day was within three of the lead when he stood on the 15th tee but would drop three shots over the closing four holes and was still anguishing about letting such a good position slip late in his round.
“I wish I could have the last four holes back, but it is what it is. Hopefully, the lead doesn't get too far out. Get some nice weather tomorrow. Even if it's windy, as long as it's not wet, you know, try and get myself back into it.”
Clearly Day struggled with the conditions which seemed to be worse for those in the morning draw.
“It didn't stop raining the whole time. It was just tough because, by the end of everything, it was wet. My whole bag is wet. The clubs are wet. It was a tough finish actually. With a little bit of wind and some rain and being cold, 17 is playing tough. 18 is difficult, obviously.”
Herbert made a great start to round two with three birdies in his first six holes but the momentum did slow a little from there. A round of 69 in what is his second major however and to be just six shots from the halfway lead is impressive for the Victorian.
Davis continued his elevation in the game by not only making the cut but doing so comfortably in the end after being a little concerned when he finished his round as to whether his score would be good enough.
The current Australian Open and World Amateur Champion moved to the edge of contention with a good start to his morning round in the wet conditions with birdies at the 2nd and 7th holes and at that point was just three from the lead.
A double bogey at the 10th after pulling his approach from the left round was painful but he has done well to make the cut in his first effort in a major and is well enough positioned to do even better over the weekend.
"I've been close," said Davis. "I made a lot of birdies. I unfortunately had a couple too many doubles to be right at the top, but I feel like the good golf is there, just the mistakes need to go away."
Leishman battled away in conditions he did not enjoy and while eight shots adrift he is happy enough with his effort to date.
“I find playing in the rain pretty difficult,” said the tall Victorian. “I won't say happy, but I'm certainly not disappointed with a 1-over. I was saying to Matty out there, some people, rain doesn't affect them. Some people wind does.
“I love the wind and not a huge fan of the rain. So to get through that kind of -- I won't say unscathed, but with a respectable score, just to give me a chance over the next couple of days, I was happy with that.”
Smith and Rumford both edged into the weekend field with strong finishes over their closing nine holes while Fox also held on grimly down the stretch to survive the cut.
A good third round by any of those mentioned above could well see them nicely placed heading in to Sunday’s final round so there is still hope for a possible Australasian victory.
Want video tips delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to iseekgolf.com newsletters.