Captain Bronwyn Jacobs felt playing at a higher level gave Portsmouth Valkyries the edge in their derby cup success.
Valkyries claimed a 31-10 RFU Intermediate Cup win against Havant Ladies at Hooks Lane on Sunday.
'After being promoted last season, our league games are more challenging,' said Jacobs.
'As a team we are being stretched more, but are learning every game.
'It was nice to come back to cup rugby and get a win.
'Playing against Havant is never easy but we showed great discipline to control the game.
'Whenever we made mistakes, however, they kept coming back at us.
'In the higher league we are learning not to get disheartened when things don't go our way.'
The hosts, although underdogs, started brightly and had a good spell of possession in the opening 10 minutes in which Portsmouth had to make the tackles count.
It was the Valkyries who opened the scoring on 11 minutes when full back Nikki Buckingham touched down in the right hand corner.
A second try soon followed when, from a line out on the left touchline, Portsmouth moved the ball through the backs quickly and outside centre Georgie Outhwaite ran in left of the uprights
Chloe Stopard saw her conversion attempt rebound off the crossbar.
Portsmouth pressure forced Havant into giving away a penalty in front of their own posts which Chloe Stopard converted for a 13-0 lead at half time.
Havant hit back at the start of the second half, scoring a try through Marlyse Sisre after some tenacious forward play.
This try kickstarted the visitors back into action, and a scrummage on the Havant five-metre line saw a big push from the Valkyries pack and centre Jacobs had the easiest of run ins to increase the lead to 18-5.
Ten minutes later, the outstanding Charlie Morgan scored a trademark scrum half try, sniping over the line from the base of a ruck after a period of intense pressure by Portsmouth.
Five minutes later Stopard added a fifth try for the Valkyries in the left hand corner.
Havant rumbled over for a late try scored by Melissa Woolmer.
Portsmouth had the final word, though, when Stopard converted a penalty in the final seconds.
The winners now face a third round trip to Bristol-based St Mary’s OB who they beat 11-6 in last season’s promotion play-off in May.