Portsmouth coach Ben Dudley praised the spirit of his squad following their 15-5 London & South East Intermediate Cup defeat by Tunbridge Wells at Rugby Camp.
The home side pushed their unbeaten visitors all the way before losing out in the second-round tie.
Dudley was highly encouraged by the way Portsmouth refused to give up and kept going right to the end.
‘There was a lot to be satisfied about in our performance,’ he said.
‘The players are beginning to feel more at ease with the style we are wanting them to develop.
‘We controlled long spells in the first half with the wind at our backs.
‘Unfortunately we turned around 5-0 down after failing to make our dominance and possession count.
‘We made mistakes which allowed them to clear their lines.
‘With the wind against us, we thought we might find ourselves up against it in the second half.
‘But the team raised their game and levelled the scores.’
The only score of the first half came from the visitors, whose dangerous backs ran good lines all game.
Greg Hoolihan levelled the scores in the second period after the hosts did well to work their way upfield.
Hoolihan claimed his fifth try this season from the back of a driving maul.
‘Greg (Hoolihan) has been impressive this season after asking him to change position,’ said Dudley.
‘He has moved from the front row to the back row and maintained his tremendous work-rate.
‘As club captain he sets a good example.
‘He is scoring tries but will be the first to appreciate the hard work put in by those in front of him to create the chances.’
The visitors added a penalty and after Hoolihan was harshly sin-binned on 68 minutes, they scored a try.
‘At the beginning of the season heads might have gone down a little after conceding a try,’ said Dudley.
‘Now the players remain focused and show a greater mental resilience.
‘They showed a steely determination to stick to their task.’