Portsmouth got their season off to a flier with an 18-13 success over London Cornish at Rugby Camp.
After last season’s shock relegation to London two south-west, coach Ian Chandler has targeted promotion at the first attempt.
And they made a superb start, already showing great improvement in the eyes of the coach.
‘This is a game we would have lost last season,’ said Chandler.
‘We showed a totally different mentality along with the determination and resilience that was missing last season.
‘In the later stages we went down to 14 men and last year our opponents would have exploited that.
‘This time though, we defended well in our own 22 without giving anything away.
‘It was important for us to get off to a winning start.
‘And the fact that London Cornish proved very competitive made us focus from the start.
‘They had a good pack of forwards who gave us a real test.
‘It is still early days and the lack of cohesion at times was down to us being a young side with six players making their debut.’
The city club began well, going straight onto the offensive against the wind in the first half.
Andy Barnes opened the scoring with a fine individual try, sidestepping one defender, before outstripping the full-back to the posts.
Portsmouth added a couple of penalties before Will Carpenter finished off a seven-phase move, with a try to give the hosts a 15-6 interval lead
In the second half, Portsmouth managed just a single penalty.
Winger Dylan Akamune-Miles was sent to the sinbin and the visitors managed to reduce the lead to 18-13.
But excellent defence ensured Portsmouth secured the win.
‘It is very pleasing to start in this fashion, though there are lessons to be learned,’ said Chandler.
‘We passed up chances of penalties in a bid to go for a bonus point try.
‘We have to learn that we need to be more than two scores ahead before we do that.
‘There is a lot more depth to our squad this season and my main problem is going to be trying to keep all the players happy.’