Disappointed Dudley says there is no need to panic
Portsmouth once again fell just short as they lost their London two south west derby against Winchester at Rugby Camp.
The 23-22 loss was a second successive home defeat for the Hilsea club.
However, they did get off the mark with a losing bonus point.
It was particularly galling for Ben Dudley’s side who scored three tries to the visitor’s two.
Andy Barnes converted his own try after 10 minutes to put the home side ahead.
Winchester hit back with two penalties before Portsmouth struck again through Stuart Davies.
And despite conceding another penalty, Dudley’s men held a 12-9 lead at the break.
However, a try for the visitors soon after the interval left Portsmouth trailing for the first time.
And although Barnes reduced the arrears with a penalty, Winchester struck the decisive blow five minutes before full-time with a converted try.
In a tense finale, winger Hamish Laybourne scored a try for the second week running – with Barnes adding the conversion.
That brought Portsmouth to within a single point but with just two minutes remaining it proved too late.
Dudley said: ‘It is always frustrating when you lose any game by such a narrow margin.
‘In fairness, though, Winchester probably deserved to win and the final scoreline flattered us a little.
‘We didn’t play well for the second week running and that is something we need to focus on.
‘Disappointingly we failed to get to grips with the referee’s interpretation at the breakdown.
‘That resulted in us giving our opponents three or four kickable penalties which, in a tight game, can be decisive.
‘Generally, though, we didn’t execute the things we have been doing well at training time and time again.
‘We have simply underperformed in both our opening matches.
‘But to lose by such narrow margins against two good sides when not playing at our best bodes well for the future.
‘The feeling is if we tighten up in a few areas the results will start looking after themselves.