Scott Ashley praised the work ethic of his troops after they completed a London one south double over Portsmouth at Gosport Park.
The league leaders maintained their 100-per-cent record with a 30-7 success – but only after overcoming a stern test up front from the visitors.
The win was rarely in doubt but coach Scott Ashley admitted his team had to work hard.
‘It was a classic derby – not the most attractive game of rugby,’ he said.
‘Portsmouth did their homework on us and managed to stop us playing the wide game I wanted.
‘They were very strong up front, slowed the ball down and dragged us into a forward battle at times.
‘It meant we had to work hard all the way through.
‘We used our heads, though, and when we were able to play our game we took the opportunity to score six tries. I have to be happy with that.
‘We have achieved what we set out to do and that is to be top of the league at Christmas.
‘It is a great position to be in but there is still a lot of rugby to be played between now and the end of the season.’
The home side made the perfect start with a try inside the opening five minutes when Mark Pollard went over from a rolling line-out.
The try only seemed to stabilise the visitors, though.
And they competed well before conceding a second midway through the half through Tom Lewis.
Wes Dugan grabbed a third try for the hosts before half-time, with Sam Foster adding the bonus point try soon after the break.
With the vicious wind making life difficult, the home side failed to convert any of their tries.
Portsmouth, meanwhile, refused to give up.
And Will Phillips got them off the mark with a try from a quickly-tapped penalty.
Bobby Owens converted from under the posts.
But by the end, further tries from Matt Flower and Wayne Dugan sealed a comfortable win for the home side.
Although well beaten, Portsmouth director of rugby Ed Neville was proud of the way his players stood up to the leaders.
‘They will certainly know they have been in a game,’ said Neville.
‘Our back row of Will Brock, Adam Long and Will Phillips was outstanding and we competed well at the breakdowns.
‘Gosport, though, were stronger and better organised than us.
‘We can take a lot of positives out of the game going into the second half of the season.
‘Apart from the top two sides, I don’t think we need to fear any of the others.
‘I feel we are capable of beating them and I don’t see why we can’t go on a significant run.’
However, Portsmouth’s brave efforts were marred by a worrying injury to Dan Neville.
The outside-half suffered a knee ligament problem and he could prove a significant loss.