Portsmouth slipped deeper into relegation trouble after a 62-13 defeat at rivals Old Alleynians in London two south west.
It was looking bleak for the team when they lost centre Dave Jones at the last minute before kick-off.
Jones was called away to work, while second-row forward Rob Gicquel arrived late and almost missed the start.
Their resources were already stretched.
‘It was one set-back after another and not a lot of fun,’ said Portsmouth manager Nigel Morgan.
‘We were already weakened by injury and illness which meant we had no back replacements.
‘After 15 minutes, we lost outside half Lee Chandler with an injury and had to play one of our forwards in the three-quarters.
‘You had to feel for our captain Greg Hoolihan, who started off at hooker, moved to wing-forward, and ended up in the backs.’
Old Alleynians grabbed an early try, before Steve Clooney reduced the arrears with a penalty.
The visitors felt they should have been awarded a penalty try after Alleynians were penalised four times close to their line but it never came.
The hosts then exposed Portsmouth with some quick running rugby to open up a 31-0 lead at the break.
Hoolihan grabbed a brace of tries in the second half but Alleynians possessed far too much pace in their ranks.
The defeat leaves Portsmouth occupying the second relegation spot, three points behind Effingham & Leatherhead, with two games in hand.
‘Our fate is still in our own hands and there is still a good chance of staying up,’ said Morgan
‘It is going to be very tight.’
United Services lost 22-11 to Andover at Burnaby Road.
Chris Marriott scored all the points for US but the loss dents their promotion hopes.
Director of rugby Simon Burns believes the team still have a chance to go up.
But there is now no room left for mistakes.
Burns said: ‘There are three games left and if we win them there is still a chance we could sneak second spot.’