Premiership: London Irish 15-20 Leicester
London Irish (9) 15
- Pens: O'Connor 4, Humphreys
Leicester Tigers (10) 20
- Tries: B Youngs, Mulipola, Goneva
- Cons: Williams
- Pens: Williams
Leicester moved up to fourth spot with a victory at London Irish to end the Exiles' three-match winning league run.
Tries from Ben Youngs and Logovi'i Mulipola gave Tigers a 10-9 lead at the break, with Irish's points coming from three James O'Connor penalties.
Vereniki Goneva's score and Owen Williams' penalty added to Tigers lead.
Penalties from O'Connor and Ian Humphreys kept the hosts in touch before Gerard Ellis' last-minute Irish try was disallowed for a knock-on.
Ellis crossed after a barrage of home pressure on the Leicester defence, but Ofisa Treviranus was deemed to have made the infringement in the build-up by the Television Match Official, leaving Irish heartbroken and keeping them 10th in the Premiership table.
They had begun the game on the front-foot, as a mix-up between Jordan Crane and Williams from the Exiles kick-off allowed O'Connor an easy three underneath the posts.
The Tigers, with Toby Flood on the bench, soon found their feet as scrum-half Youngs - released by England's Six Nations squad - crossed over in the corner after a succession of scrums down the right, but Williams kicked the conversion wide.
But the visitors lacked discipline, giving away 11 first-half penalties to Irish's four, and O'Connor took advantage twice more with the boot to put his side 9-5 up.
However, Mulipola ensured Leicester led at the break, with his try through a crowd of players confirmed by the TMO, despite the best defensive efforts of George Skivington.
Leicester, with the man advantage after Eamonn Sheridan's sinbin, extended their lead after the break when Goneva showed an incredible turn of pace to break through and score his eighth try of the season, with Williams finally kicking his first conversion.
There was some good news for Irish and England as winger Marland Yarde came off the bench to make his comeback from a ruptured hip tendon, but shortly after Williams added a penalty and the usually reliable O'Connor missed two of his next three kicks to leave Leicester 20-12 ahead.
Yet the Tigers continued to hand the hosts chances from the boot, with Humphreys taking over from O'Connor to bring them to within five points with 10 minutes left.
And Leicester's mistakes almost cost them the win, but they were saved by the TMO and have now lost only once in their last eight Premiership games.
London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith:
"We weren't at our best and that's the reason why we lost. If we had played to our best I might have been jumping up and down about a couple of matters.
"From the screen I saw, George Skivington seemed to get under Mulipola and I didn't think it was a knock-on at the end as there was an involvement from their player."
"We did miss kickable chances, James thought that one of them went through the poles and wanted it reviewed by the TMO but his kicking tee was more affected by the wind and ultimately it was my decision to change the kicker."
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill:
"I thought we were good value for the win as we scored three tries to zip and we stopped a side, which are very dangerous, from scoring.
"I thought it was right to give Owen [Williams] an opportunity - if a guy is playing better than the other guy, he deserves to be picked. I'm delighted for Owen.
"He's only 21 and he kicked well today to obtain some good field positions."
On injured Manu Tuilagi: "Manu is progressing and hopefully he will play some part against Newcastle next week."
London Irish: O'Connor; Lewington, Sheridan, Geraghty, Fenby; Humphreys, Allinson; Parr, Paice, Hagan; Skivington, Rouse; Low, Cowan, Treviranus.
Replacements: Ojo for Lewington (71), Yarde for Fenby (50), Kennedy for Allinson (62), Yapp for Parr (54), Stevens for Paice (71), Sinclair for Low (51), Ellis for Cowan (71).
Not Used: Halavatau.
Sin Bin: Sheridan (36).
Leicester: Tait; Scully, Goneva, Bowden, Thompstone; O Williams, B Youngs; Ayerza, Hawkins, Mulipola; Deacon, Slater; Gibson, Salvi, Crane.
Replacements: Flood for Bowden (69), Hamilton for O. Williams (72), Mele for B. Youngs (72), Briggs for Hawkins (79), Mafi for Salvi (70), Waldrom for Crane (63).
Not Used: Stankovich, Balmain.
Sin Bin: Waldrom (67).
Ref: JP Doyle (RFU).