|Leicester: (20) 34|
|Tries: Steward, Potter, Scott, Dolly 2 Cons: Ford 3 Pens: Ford|
|Exeter: (5) 19|
|Tries: Armand, Penalty, Hidalgo-Clyne Cons: Skinner|
Leicester stunned Premiership runners-up Exeter 34-19 to begin the new season with an impressive victory.
Tigers started strongly as Freddie Steward and Harry Potter tries split a Don Armand score from close range.
Matt Scott went in shortly before the break to put the Tigers 15 points up at the break, but Exeter hit back with a penalty try 15 minutes after the break.
But two close-range Nic Dolly tries sealed a bonus point win for Leicester before Sam Hidalgo-Clyne's late try.
The victory was Leicester's first over Exeter in four years and will give great hope to Tigers fans after a number of difficult seasons as Exeter missed a host of chances.
Exeter were missing their four British and Irish Lions players as well as injured influential forwards Jonny Gray, Dave Ewers and Jacques Vermeulen and they looked disjointed as they began against a Leicester side that had a spring in their step.
George Ford's penalty was added to by Steward from five metres out after a multi-phase move that pulled the Chiefs defence all over the field as Nemani Nandolo battered the visitors.
Almost immediately Exeter replied as Armand was forced over from a five-metre lineout, but Nandolo again showed his frightening power as he put two Exeter defenders on the ground as a run from just inside the Chiefs' half was held up five metres from the line, with Potter going in from the next phase.
The half turned in the space of four first-half minutes as Exeter hooker Jack Innard had a try disallowed following a television review while Scott scored from a metre after Steward's chip over the top took a nasty bounce which wrong-footed Exeter full-back Josh Hodge.
The visitors started the second half well and had Tom O'Flaherty held up over the line while Nandolo put in a superb tackle to stop Henry Slade in the right corner.
Exeter's pressure finally forced some points as Harry Wells was penalised for pulling down a maul, but it was Steve Borthwick's side who got on the scoresheet despite being a man down as Dolly went in from a five-metre lineout.
Exeter again coughed up another good position from close range with 18 minutes to go and a few minutes later they were made to pay again when Dolly scored a similar try to his first in the other corner.
Sean Lonsdale was held up having gone in under the Leicester points, but Exeter did get a consolation try in the final minute as replacement scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne broke through.
Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick told BBC Radio Leicester:
"I'm pleased with the start, obviously. I think we've got to be respectful that Exeter were missing an awful lot of players, so I'm a realist and I understand how many players they did not have.
"So we take this result in the context that it presents itself - there were some really good things that we saw in pre-season transferred, some bits that haven't and there's plenty to improve upon.
"I think specifically the number of times we gave them opportunities with penalties that allowed them into our 22.
"At the end of last season we were the best in the league in terms of the penalty count, we were the most disciplined team in the league, so clearly that's not what the situation was today.
"So there's plenty to improve upon, because if we give teams that many opportunities it becomes very difficult to win games."
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:
"Every game we lose is disappointing, I thought Leicester were very good value for their win in the end.
"Obviously the thing for us to do is to move on and improve.
"It's not a game I can turn around and say 'we're going to learn lessons from' because it wasn't about that, the thing we've got to do is look at ourselves.
"I think there's plenty we can do better and we've got to concentrate on that and focus on it and move forward to next week."
Leicester: Steward; Potter, Scott, Kelly, Nadolo; Ford, B Youngs; Genge (capt), Dolly, Cole, Wells, Green, Martin, Reffell, Liebenberg
Replacements:T Cowan-Dickie, Van Wyk, Leatigaga, Snyman, Chessum, Van Poortvliet, Burns, Porter
Exeter: Hodge; Nowell, Slade, Devoto, O'Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Hepburn, Innard, Williams, Witty, Lonsdale, Kirsten, Armand, Tuima
Reaplacements:Yeandle, Moon, Nixon, McCauley, Tshiunza, Hidalgo-Clyne, Skinner, Hendrickson