Chasing Downes are Stephen Leaney, world No. 14 Stuart Appleby, Peter Lonard and American Ricky Barnes.
Defending champion Stephen Allan is also just two off the pace.
Downes, much like he did on Friday, briefly lost his lead during the third round after a double-bogey at the par-3 11th. He recovered quickly with birdies at the 12th and 13th to move one clear of playing partner Barnes.
Despite a late bogey at the 17th, Downes finished the day with a 1-under 71 to stand at 8 under for the tournament.
'I've got nothing to lose out there tomorrow. You just have to put the other players out of your mind and give it your best shot. That's all I can do,' Downes said.
Leaney, who enjoyed a bogey-free round, posted a 4-under-par 68 to move into sole possession of second place.
A shot further back is a large group of seven players including Barnes, Appleby and Lonard.
Barnes could only manage an even par round after two late bogeys pushed him two back of the lead.
Appleby made his move up the leaderboard on the strength of five birdies against a lone bogey.
Michael Barry and Wade Ormsby had the day's best rounds, both firing 5-under 67s.