COVENTRY RFC booked their place in the Championship Cup semi-finals with a 62-53 aggregate victory against Doncaster Knights despite losing 31-27 at home in the second leg.
Coventry needed to avoid a defeat of 13 or more points to reach the last four and survived a few scares before eventually prevailing by a nine-point margin across the two legs.
Doncaster made a fast start when Kyle Evans ran in underneath the sticks with Sam Olver adding the extras to reduce the deficit to six points.
However, Coventry were soon level at Butts Park Arena when captain for the day Jordon Poole dived over from Fred Betteridge’s excellent carry and offload with Tony Fenner converting in his last home game for the club.
The visitors were quick to restore their lead when Harvey Davey dotted down neatly and Olver converted.
And Coventry levelled again when Tiki Nayalo crashed over from close range after Fenner was denied a fairytale try close to the line before converting.
However, Doncaster led going into the break after John Kelly went over with Olver again landing the conversion before missing a late penalty attempt with Coventry’s aggregate lead reduced to six points.
And Coventry’s lead was further reduced at the start of the second period when Olver atoned for his earlier penalty miss with three points to move within a score of levelling up the tie on aggregate.
The hosts landed a penalty of their own through Fenner from distance before Doncaster’s Tom Smith was shown a yellow card for illegally stopping Coventry’s rolling maul.
And Coventry made the most of their man advantage when Josh Bainbridge crossed for a try as the tide turned in the home side’s favour.
However, a pair of yellow cards saw Coventry reduced to 13-men, with both James Tyas and Jake Bridges sent to the sin bin, the latter resulting in a penalty try to leave Donny seven points ahead.
A crucial passage of play followed as James Martin won a turnover penalty on halfway after Fin Ogden’s box kick cleared Coventry’s lines.
And Fenner’s penalty on 75 minutes from an improbable angle left Doncaster needing two scores to overturn the aggregate deficit.
Much to the delight of the home crowd, Coventry were able to see out the final few minutes to lose by four points on the day having secured a slender nine-point margin of victory on aggregate.
Coventry make the trip to Jersey Reds in the semi-final’s on Friday, May 13 with kick-off at 7pm at Stade Santander International.