Rose has made only one bogey through 36 holes this week at Hong Kong Golf Club, and at 9 under he is one shot clear of Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard. The Englishman finished T-6 last week at the Frys.com Open on the PGA Tour, and he has maintained that momentum this week in Asia.
"Yesterday I played such a clean round, I guess it was always going to be more of a struggle," Rose said. "I made a few more mistakes today but salvaged par very well quite a few times. Finally the bogey that threatened a few times reared its head on No. 9, but I guess I played (35) holes without making a mistake."
The event remains wide open with two rounds to play, but Rose admitted that he had an eye on his countryman Poulter, who had to scramble to make a last-minute flight to play in this event after unexpectedly falling out of the top 50 in the world ranking.
"He's probably a dangerous guy now that he's outside the top 50 in the world, and I know that he'll be desperate to get back in it," Rose said. "He always plays well when he has motivation."
Playing without the benefit of a practice round or his regular caddie, Poulter chased an opening 67 with a 4-under 66 on a course where he won in 2010. At 7 under, he shares third place despite still adjusting to the jetlag that accompanies an intercontinental flight.
"Got a decent amount of sleep last night, which was always handy," Poulter said. "I fell asleep at 7:45 p.m. and I wasn't looking forward to what time I was going to wake up, but I managed to get through to 4 a.m. Done nicely."
Poulter had expected to play next month in the WGC-HSBC Champions, but his drop in the rankings cost him a spot in that limited-field event. As a result, he had to add this week's event to meet the minimum start requirements to keep his European Tour membership.
Despite a mediocre season, he views this week as more than just making an appearance.
"I don't play to take part - obviously play to win," he said. "I know this golf course. I've shot 60 around here before. So albeit that I had not played a practice round, but I've got good memories on this golf course."
The leaderboard at the halfway point also includes Matthew Fitzpatrick and Anirban Lahiri, both tied for fifth and three shots behind Rose. It does not, however, include Dustin Johnson, who struggled to a 2-over 72 in the second round. At 1 over, he missed the cut by a shot.
"I played terrible," Johnson said. "Didn't drive it good. Didn't hit the irons very good. Didn't do anything really that good."