A Unites States team teetering on the brink of rendering Sunday’s singles largely immaterial played its way back into contention in afternoon foursomes in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne on Saturday.

The Americans trailed, 9-5, following the morning four-ball matches, but rallied by winning three of four points on offer in the afternoon and will go into Sunday’s 12 singles matches trailing only 10-8. The Internationals are attempting to win for the first time since their victory at Royal Melbourne in 1998.

It would have been only a one-point advantage for the Internationals had the American team of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler not squandered a 5-up lead over the final eight holes and tied their match with Abraham Ancer and Marc Leishman, who won the final three holes in dramatic fashion.

“Ernie said to us halfway through the round, ‘just take this as far as you can’ and I said, Hang on, we’re not ready to talk about losing this thing yet,” Leishman said after the match.

“We did it for the crowd – they were awesome out there today. Walking to the 18th green, I’ll remember that moment forever. To get a half out of that is a confidence builder for (Sunday).”

Gary Woodland and partner Dustin Johnson won for the first time in these matches, 2 and 1, over Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen. The loss was the first of the week for Australian favourite Adam Scott.

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay downed Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im, 2 and 1.

Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar, meanwhile, had a 2-up lead with five holes to play but had to settle for a tie with Joaquin Niemann and Byeong Hun An.