Portsmouth coach Ian Chandler paid tribute to captain Luke Richardson who led the team to a superb 27-10 win over Guildford at Rugby Camp.
Richardson was among the try scorers as the home side ended their run of three defeats on the bounce and gave themselves a big lift in London two south west.
‘Luke is developing into a fine leader after having a couple of injury-prone seasons with us,’ said Chandler.
‘He is quiet, composed and keeps his head in difficult situations.
‘The lad has a physical presence and can impose himself on games.
‘He isn’t demonstrative but goes about his work quietly and calmly.’
After a hard-fought opening 20 minutes, the two sides were locked together with 10 points apiece.
The Portsmouth try was scored by Tom Hankey, after all 15 players had been involved in five phases of play.
Andy Barnes added a conversion and a penalty but the visitors hit back with two tries of their own.
‘We ran them ragged from the start but gave away two horror tries,’ said Chandler.
‘I thought, here we go again, but we hit back to score one of the tries of the season.’
Full-back Curtis Barnes, aged 18, made a searing break – going almost the length of the pitch – before putting his namesake Andy in for the try.
Guildford showed just why they are in the top four by throwing everything at Portsmouth at the start of the second half.
But Chandler’s team demonstrated their defensive mettle to keep them out.
Seven minutes from the end, Portsmouth sealed the win when Andy Barnes made a break for Richardson to go over close to the post, with the outside-half adding the conversion.
‘It was good to win but even better was the level of performance,’ added Chandler.
‘This win has shown that we can take top sides to the cleaners.
‘Guildford were second best all game.
‘It shows what we are capable of and the players should now have increased belief in what they can do.’