Portsmouth put in a below-par performance as they suffered a 28-12 defeat at the hands of London Cornish in London two South West at Rugby Camp.
The Norway Road club were looking to complete a league double over their second-placed visitors.
However, they came up well short.
And Portsmouth’s head coach Ben Dudley suggested the clubs’ relative situations may offer the clues to the result.
‘We are not involved in promotion or relegation matters, while our opponents still have plenty to play for,’ he said.
‘For whatever reason we didn’t quite perform which was disappointing because I thought we could have a real good go at them.
‘We were probably 20 or 30 per cent off our game and that is too much to remain competitive.
‘In the opening 20 minutes we had our chances when we looked like getting the better of them.
‘We were not ruthless enough and once they went ahead against the run of play it switched the momentum of the game.
‘As a result we found ourselves having to play catch-up rugby.’
After finding themselves 10 points in arrears, Portsmouth hit back with a good try from Josh Palmer coming in off his wing.
From the restart, though, the home side conceded possession and London Cornish ran in a converted try to lead 17-7 at the half-time break.
In the second period, all Portsmouth could manage was an Andy Barnes try following a good offload by Luke Richardson in the tackle.
Elsewhere, a depleted Southsea Nomads suffered a 79-6 mauling at Romsey in their rearranged Hampshire two game.
New coach Mike Westall took charge for the first time and found himself without two key players.
Captain Ben Horrod was ruled out by a dislocated finger and Aaron Beesley was on duty for the England Deaf side against Wales.
The impressive Jonathan Branston kicked Nomads’ points with two penalties.
‘Despite the result we played with great spirit and pride,’ said Westall.
‘There are lots of positives to be taken from the performance.
‘The players gave everything, showing great passion and desire.
‘There are some key areas to work on – notably our fitness.
‘But I am looking forward to what we can achieve together in the future.’