Premiership: Leicester Tigers 20-13 Exeter Chiefs
|Leicester (10) 20|
|Tries: Malouf, May Cons: G Ford 2 Pen: G Ford Drop-goal: G Ford|
|Exeter (3) 13|
|Try: Penalty Pens: Steenson 2|
Leicester Tigers won their third Premiership match in a row with a gritty victory over defending champions Exeter Chiefs at a wet Welford Road.
Tigers were 13-10 up, but a man down with Telusa Veainu in the sin-bin, when Jonny May powered over to seal victory.
Leicester's Nick Malouf scored the only try of the first half while Exeter's Julian Salvi was in the sin-bin.
Chiefs were awarded a penalty try after the break for Veainu's deliberate knock on, but May's try proved decisive.
Gareth Steenson kicked a last-minute penalty to give Chiefs a losing bonus point, but his Exeter side were well below par.
It was a tough afternoon for handling with rain falling throughout the 80 minutes, although two excellent tries from Tigers either side of the break made the difference.
Australia Sevens back Malouf collected George Ford's superb long-range pass to cross in the corner, before England wing May burst through some desperate Exeter tackles to score.
Exeter had won the last five Premiership matches in which they had trailed at half-time, but they could not get past a resolute Leicester defence as they fell to their second defeat in five matches.
Leicester head coach Matt O'Connor:
"They are the reigning champions so we had to produce a performance to show how much we care.
"The penalty count was 15-6 against us so we need to improve our discipline, but they asked a lot of questions and put us under tremendous pressure.
"You have got to beat the top sides if we are going to challenge for the league and today we showed we could play for the whole 80 minutes."
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter:
"They (Leicester) had the killer moments in the match as we were in control before Salvi's yellow card and they go up the field up and score.
"And then in the second half we have them under pressure, choose not to kick a penalty and they take advantage of our error to break away and score.
"We had a number of chances in the first 20 minutes, but didn't take them and it was a hugely physical contest.
"We left a bit out there, but it's still a tough place to come and we've picked up a bonus point. I'm satisfied with our points tally from a difficult opening block of fixtures."
Leicester: Veainu; Malouf, Smith, Toomua May; G Ford, B Youngs; Bateman, T Youngs (capt), Cole; Wells, Barrow; M Williams, Hamilton, Kalamafoni.
Replacements: McGuigan, Traynor, Mulipola, Mapapalangi, O'Connor, Harrison, J Ford, Tait.
Exeter: Turner; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, Woodburn; Steenson, Townsend; Moon, Yeandle (capt), Francis, Lees, Hill, Dennis, Salvi, Armand.
Replacements: Taione, Hepburn, H Williams, Skinner, Kvesic, Chudley, Bodilly, Dollman.