The women's singles might have already lost its defending champion but there were few surprises in the qualifying for the men's pairs as the heavyweights all cruised through to post-section play at the national bowls championships in New Plymouth today.

Blake Signal and Alvin Gardiner got the defence of their title off to a good start and on the second day of qualifying today when they beat Johnsonville combination Dick Williams and Adrian Cross 22-14 and followed it up with a 25-5 defeat of Sydney's Chad Grant and Graham Skellern to progress.

"We are not here to defend a title but to here to win it again," Signal said. "Our form is good and we are enjoying the competition we are playing against. The greens also help which are playing good, too."

There are a number of combinations who are also in good form.

Shannon McIlroy and Lance Pascoe and Ali Forsyth and Matt Gallop also progressed as did the Stoke pair of Peter Hodson and James Pugh, who won all five games in section play. Peter Bellis and Lance Tasker also qualified, along with Australian neighbours Rowan Brassey and Beau Prideaux of Cabramatta.

The competition will be wide open when post-section play gets under way on Monday but Blake and Alvin aren't phased by what lies ahead.

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall," Signal said.