Coventry 18 NEC Harlequins 36
Defeat No 5 for Coventry already this season but this was a moral victory for Cov as they pushed high-flying Quins all the way.
In front of 4,612 spectators, the biggest crowd yet at the Butts Park Arena, Cov battled, pushed and harried Quins relentlessly.
It was a point noted by coach Mike Umaga. "We never gave up. We said this was a game we had to play for 80 minutes; defending well with 14 men, we gave away a soft try but everyone worked hard from the first minute, right through to 80; they gave it everything we had."
In the end, Quins scored five tries, maintaining their expected promotion surge back to the Premiership but Coventry even had the temerity to take the lead.
Prop Kisi Pulu was the tryscorer, being shepherded over the line with his fellow forwards in support after a lineout close to the Quins line.
James Moore missed the conversion but Cov had set out their stall to attack the visitors.
However, prompted and prodded by former All Black fly-half Andrew Mehrtens, Quins gained a measure of control; it was not total, but it was enough.
Mehrtens' exemplary handling throughout on a rainy, windy day is surely going to lead Quins back to the higher reaches of club rugby. Even though his kicking was wayward - two dropped goals and one conversion - Mehrtens' got the Quins backline ticking.
Cov trailed 11-17 at the break, with Pulu's try augmented by Moore's two penalties and Quins replying through Ceri Jones and Steve So'oialo, with Mehrtens converting both to add to his sixth-minute penalty.
But throughout, captain Hendry Rheeders and fellow back- row man Gareth Gravell kept Cov grafting.
Two tries in the second half, Simon Keogh's after 44 and lock Jim Evans' on the hour mark, meant the game was over for them, however.
Keogh's second try after 71 minutes, Quins' fifth of the afternoon, with Mehrtens converting, just emphasised the visitors' ability to cross the Cov line at will.
Jon Higgins' late try, finishing off a long kick from his own 22 by replacement flanker Tom Johnson, was converted by Moore to complete the scoring.
Umaga was satisfied with his team's effort but conceded that Quins had stepped up the pace after the break.
"They knew they were in a game at the break," he said. "In the first half, it was pleasing for us that they knew what they had to do kill us off as early as possible.
"For us, it is a mark of respect that they didn't take their foot off the pedal and they were pushed all the way to the final whistle. We fought all the way; now we have to take that approach into every game and we may win more than we lose."
Cov chairman Keith Fairbrother added: "Today, our players were cheered off the pitch. After last week at Pertemps Bees, when we left the field with our heads down, everyone resolved that that wouldn't happen again."
Even though this result will be seen as a disappointment by some, Cov showed themselves spirited and eager to take the game to the highflying visitors. From this performance, they to have regained a little pride.