Premiership: Leicester Tigers 15-34 Exeter Chiefs

By Gary SmeeBBC Sport
Henry Slade
Exeter fly-half Henry Slade, dropped by England this week, was flawless with the boot in tricky conditions
Aviva Premiership
Leicester (8) 15
Tries: Rizzo, Mermoz Con: Williams Pen: Williams
Exeter (27) 34
Tries: Horstmann, Penalty, Townsend, Lees Cons: Slade 4 Pens: Slade 2

Exeter Chiefs moved one point behind Premiership leaders Wasps with a bonus-point win at Leicester Tigers.

Michele Rizzo bundled over for Tigers, before Kai Horstmann charged down Owen Williams' kick and crossed unopposed.

A penalty try, which saw Tom Youngs sin-binned, and score from Stu Townsend gave Chiefs a 27-8 half-time lead.

France centre Maxime Mermoz glided through a gap to give Leicester hope, but Mitch Lees crashed over a fourth try to secure a fine victory.

Fifth-placed Leicester had won three straight league games before the visit of last season's Premiership finalists.

However, a terrible first half littered with individual errors and indiscipline meant they were left with too much to do after the break.

The home side camped themselves in front of the Exeter try-line after Mermoz had reduced the deficit to 12 points, but the visitors' defence was superb despite being down to 14 men with Geoff Parling in the sin bin.

Having resisted the hosts' best attacking spell and with conditions worsening at Welford Road, Australian forward Lees sealed Chiefs' 13th bonus point of the season.

Exeter are now unbeaten in 10 Premiership matches - their last defeat coming against Bath on 30 October.

They also have a favourable run-in, facing none of their closest play-off rivals in their remaining five fixtures, as they bid to win a first Premiership title.

Ten-time champions Leicester on the other hand face a tricky derby game at Northampton before travelling to Bath in their next two matches.

Tigers head coach Aaron Mauger told BBC Radio Leicester:

"Upfront we weren't good enough - they played to their strengths really well and they're a quality side, so credit to them.

"They're a better side than the last three teams we've played - upfront they were too good, they put us under a lot of pressure.

"I think their collisions were just better - I thought their forwards probably won the battle and gave them a better platform to play rugby."

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:

"They're winning not through luck, they're winning because they're deserving to win, and that's more satisfying than anything else.

"We're not getting diverted, we're not getting blown off course - it actually looks like it's going to take a lot to make us get fretful in a game.

"We've got some players who are standing up and showing real character, real drive and real intensity and they're reaping the rewards - I'm really pleased for them."

Leicester: Veainu; Thompstone, Smith, Mermoz, Pietersen; O Williams, Kitto; Rizzo, T Youngs (capt), Bateman, Fitzgerald, Barrow, Croft, O'Connor, Hamilton.

Replacements: McGuigan, Genge, Cilliers, M Williams, McCaffrey, Harrison, Burns, Betham.

Exeter: Dollman; Woodburn, Whitten, Devoto, Short; Slade, Townsend; Rimmer, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Lees, Parling, Armand (capt), Horstmann, Waldrom.

Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Francis, Hill, S Simmonds, Maunder, J Simmons, Hill.

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