BEARS slipped to their fifth successive defeat in Kingstone Press League One after falling short 16-12 on the road at Hemel Stags in what were tough playing conditions for both sides.
Hemel halfback Charlie Lawrence came off the bench to be the match winner with a try and four successful kicks at goal including a late penalty after Bears forward Jack Francis saw red following a dreadful challenge on Derrell Olpherts three minutes from time.
Non-stop rain made ball handling tricky but both teams put in a spirited display throughout an entertaining clash on Sunday.
The visitors wasted the first opportunity of the game when Jack Morrison spilled a ball close to the Hemel line after Joel James set up an opening on ten minutes.
Morrison was held up in the next set before a slick move across the backs almost put Chris Dixon in the corner and keeping up the pressure, Liam Thompson dropped the ball approaching the Hemel line.
Jymel Coleman finally got the hosts on the front foot with astute grubber kicks that Coventry managed to clear in consecutive sets.
Chris McNamara then spurned a chance for the hosts in the right corner before Hemel finally got the scoreboard ticking when Lawrence powered over from close range after an attacking scrum, and Lawrence slotted over the extras for a 6-0 advantage.
But the Bears bounced back immediately from the restart when Chris Barratt got on the end of a slick move and Daniel Parker levelled the scores.
Hemel however were not to be denied an interval lead as Matt Ross collected a loose ball to score near the posts two minutes from the break and Lawrence again added the extras for a 12-6 advantage.
On 50 minutes Lawrence slotted over a penalty following a high tackle offence to give Hemel breathing space.
But needing the next score, the visitors put in a big effort and after going close through Richie Hughes and Dixon, they grabbed a lifeline when Parker crashed over in the corner. Parker himself landed the conversion to make it a two-point ball game with 30 minutes to play.
Hemel indiscipline brought a spate of penalties that almost cost them dearly as the Bears enjoyed sustained possession entering the final quarter.
As both sides pushed for victory a high tackle on Coleman by James Geurtjens earned Hemel a shot at goal on 69 minutes but Lawrence was wide with his penalty kick.
And with the match up for grabs Hemel held up Parker and Jack Francis on the try line during consecutive sets as the Bears failed to find another breakthrough.