THE cream came to the top on day two of the Brabazon Trophy with England international colleagues Ben Stow and Ryan Evans sharing the halfway lead on nine-under-par 137, three shots clear of the rest of the field.

When Wiltshire's Stow returned 68 to go with his opening 69 it looked as if he would be out on his own. But Evans had other ideas and his bogey-free 66, seven under par, a record for the extended course, saw him catch his England teammate.

Evans was out in 30, the best of the championship, with five birdies and collected two more coming home despite the course growing drier by the minute after a second day of sunshine.

“Ben is a good friend and colleague but tomorrow is all about business,” he said.

Stow, back from college in the United States, had six birdies in his 68 including all four par fives and, in contrast to Evans, relied a lot on his driver. He also felt his game has benefitted from his American experience.

“It’s definitely improved my long game,” admitted the Rushmore and Cumberwell Park player, who qualified for last year's Open Championship. “If you don’t hit it straight over there you can’t score. It’s also improved my putting which enabled me to birdie all the par fives.

“I played really solidly today. With the firmness of the greens, the emphasis was on wedge play and I hit it really close. But there was nothing spectacular. I’ve only had one bogey in 36 holes but I’ve used my length to advantage.”

Their closest rival is Scotland’s Daniel Young, who fired a second successive 70. He was on the back foot after a double-bogey seven at the second but replied with an eagle and four birdies.

Defending champion from Wiltshire, Jordan Smith (Bowood), is ten shots back on one over par after a second-round 75.