Unbeaten Hampshire one leaders United Services were pushed all the way by Fareham Heathens before securing a 29-17 derby win.
Services director of rugby Matt Davis reckoned it was his side’s hardest game of the season.
‘Heathens chucked everything at us and we were in bits physically afterwards,’ he said.
‘They ran hard at us and certainly wanted it but we dug in and came away with a bonus-point win.’
In the end, tries by Graham Butterworth, Scott Carter, Luke Peters and Tom Blewitt proved decisive. Visiting coach Bernie Rhodes felt Heathens deserved to get something from the game after having the better of the second half.
‘My players raised their game to produce an awesome performance,’ he said.
‘We put Services under a lot of pressure at times and battered their line in the closing stages.
‘In the end it was only poor decision-making at crucial times that prevented us getting something.
‘I am devastated that we didn’t.
‘It was 10 points apiece on 38 minutes but Services hit us with two quick tries in the space of three minutes to grab a 24-10 lead at the break.’
Tom Baxter, playing out of position at outside half, made an impressive debut.
Heathens’ tries were scored by Andy Burns, Matt Smith and Will West.
Ian Chandler was left scratching his head over refereeing decisions after Portsmouth lost 19-6 against Weybridge Vandals in London two south west.
‘It was bizarre and the game became a complete farce,’ said the head coach.
‘There were over 40 penalties and six yellow cards in a game that wasn’t aggressive.
‘Whether it was because the referee knew he was being assessed, I don’t know.
‘But he ended up having a nightmare.’
Chris Morgan kicked Portsmouth’s points with two penalties but it was when the visitors found themselves down to 13 men in the second half the hosts went clear.
Southsea Nomads had reason to celebrate after they secured their first Hampshire two win of the season with a 13-8 success at Kingsclere.