Despite scoring five tries and at one point leading by 14 points Coventry Rugby were forced to settle for a 33-all Premiership Rugby Cup draw against Nottingham.
Second-rowers Rhys Anstey and Obinna Nkwocha both crossed for the hosts while fly-half Evan Mitchell, replacement flanker Matt Kvesic and winger Jimmy Martin also got on the scoresheet.
However, Cov’s tenacious East Midlands rivals counter-attacked to good effect and despite finishing second in the possession and territory stats took full advantage of those opportunities that came their way to also register five touchdowns and grab a share of the spoils.
Cov sit second in Pool One following this result plus Gloucester’s comfortable win at Hartpury and now know that a bonus-point win at Kingsholm next week will clinch a semi-final place, providing their hosts are also held pointless.
Nottingham lock Côme Joussain was sin-binned on the 12th minute for illegally stopping a try-scoring opportunity and from the resulting penalty Anstey powered to the posts for a try which Mitchell converted.
Cov doubled their lead at the end of the opening quarter when tight-head prop Eliot Salt made ground before Nkwocha ran a perfect line slipping past Nottingham prop Kai Owen to score under the posts.
The visitors saw little of the ball until Williams drifted inside and linked with fly-half Sam Hollingsworth – grandson of Cov legend Steve Wilkes – who sent Michael Stronge in from 35 metres.
An entertaining end-to-end encounter then saw an Elliot Chilvers break and a Tiki Nayalo overhead pass release Mitchell to sprint over by the left post for a try which he again improved.
Hollingsworth was in the thick of the action and he soon picked off an interception before racing 60 metres to dot down a converted score which left the hosts with a seven-point interval advantage.
But the Archers went within a whisker of leveling affairs soon after the restart when winger David Williams linked with centre Marcus Ramage to score in the corner.
Experienced back-rower Kvesic arrived from the bench to make an immediate impact for Cov, scoring direct from a quick re-start before setting up speedy winger Martin whose finish made it 33-19 on the hour-mark.
But Nottingham again battled back with Williams pushing off three defenders to muscle over for a solo-effort before Mee linked up with wing Harry Graham who finished off a fine counter-attack score.
Two conversions from replacement Morgan Bunting left the teams locked together at 33-all and although Cov piled pressure on the visitors, when Mitchell’s last-ditch penalty sailed wide the blue-and-whites were forced to settle for a second draw in three weeks.
Coventry Rugby: Wilson; Opoku (Mannion 50), Titherington, Rigg, Martin; Mitchell, Chudley (Ogden 64); Chilvers (Trinder 52), Poole © (Biggs 56), Salt (Andrews 50-53); Anstey, Nkwocha (Smith 56); Nayalo (Kvesic 40), Ball, Bartlett (C Owen 56)
Nottingham: Mee; Williams, Ramage, Bunting, Graham; Hollingsworth (Stapley 65), Stronge (cc) (Yarnell 62,); K Owen (Van Der Flier 58), Dickinson (Clayton 50), Sio (Valentine 50); Ferreira (Maloney-Fiola 50), Joussain (Green 55); Hall (cc), Cherry (Tweedy 55), Clift
Tries: Anstey 13, Nkwocha 20, Mitchell 26, Kvesic 46, Martin 59
Conversions: Mitchell 14, 21, 27, 47
Tries: Stronge 23, Hollingsworth 34, Williams 42, 64, Mee 72
Conversions: Hollingsworth 24, 35, Bunting 65, 73
Referee: Jonathan Cook
Half-time: Coventry 21 – 14 Nottingham