Portsmouth survived a torrid finale as they edged out Cobham 41-36 in a thrilling high-scoring London one south contest at Rugby Camp.
The win moved the city club out of the bottom three but coach Ian Chandler admitted it wasn’t good for the nerves.
‘I think I’ve used up a year’s supply of blood pressure tablets,’ said Chandler.
‘Twice in the final minute Cobham drove over our line but we defended magnificently to hold them up.
‘It was a big win for us and a real test of character in the end.
‘We refused to be beaten, even after falling behind in the second half, keeping our nerve and continuing to play our rugby.
‘It takes us out of the bottom three and we can move forward from this.’
Portsmouth flew out of the blocks and raced into a 13-point lead after 22 minutes.
A first-minute Gareth Richards converted try and two Andy Barnes penalties crowning the fine start.
The visitors hit back with two tries and a conversion as it turned into a roller-coaster affair.
Tries from Whitehouse and skipper Greg Hoolihan, along with further points from the boot of Barnes, saw Portsmouth go into the break with a 28-19 lead.
Cobham’s big powerful pack started to do some damage in the second half and, before the hour, Portsmouth found themselves behind 28-33 for the first time in the match.
But Chandler’s men refused to panic and a Patrick Bion try and a conversion and two penalties from Barnes, who kicked 21 points, saw Portsmouth to a great win.
‘We scored four good tries and it was a real clash of styles,’ said Chandler.
‘Most of Cobham’s tries came from their forwards picking up and driving forward through a number of phases.
‘Andy Barnes kicked two crucial penalties for us into the teeth of a strong wind.
‘When Cobham got near to our line with two minutes to go everybody thought they would score but we kept them out.’