A powerful second-half performance saw Portsmouth storm to an impressive 46-8 London one south win over Andover at Rugby Camp.
The win enabled the Norway Road club to open up an 10-point gap above the bottom two.
Assistant coach Jim Pearce felt it was a pleasing performance – in the end.
‘It was the start to the new year we needed with a buy period of league and cup rugby coming up,’ said Pearce.
‘The win gives us the extra bit of breathing space we wanted.
‘Although we started well, we eased off a bit in the period before half-time.
‘We also got on the wrong side of the referee’s interpretation at the breakdown.
‘That allowed Andover to get back into the game.
‘When we got the players into the shed at the break we had words with them.
‘To be fair, they went out in the second half and performed – scoring 31 unanswered points.’
Portsmouth started strongly – establishing a 15-point lead in the opening 19 minutes of the home fixture.
Jackson Clark and Luke Richardson crossed for tries – with Simon Morgan adding a conversion and penalty.
Andover hit back with a well-worked try and a penalty before the break.
After the interval, though, Portsmouth took charge and powered away from their Hampshire rivals.
Both Luke Peters and replacement Tom Whitehouse grabbed a brace and Morgan added the extra points with his boot.
United Services remain in danger of relegation in London three south west following a 33-6 derby defeat at Trojans.
Services are one point above the drop zone with nine games of the campaign left to play.
Southsea Nomads suffered a 45-5 Hampshire two defeat at Lymington Mariners.
The visitors cause was not helped by travel problems, which meant some players arrived later than scheduled.
In the first half, the New Forest hosts – and in particular their strong scrum – proved too powerful for Nomads.
A much-improved second-half performance, however, saw the Southsea side come into the game.
They were rewarded with an outstanding try by John Marsden.
‘In the second half we started to show what we are about,’ said Nomads captain Ben Horrod.
‘We need to keep working on our patterns and structures.’