Exeter inflict biggest home defeat of season on Leicester to cement second place
Exeter inflicted the biggest home league defeat of the season on Leicester to cement second place in the Aviva Premiership.
The Chiefs, who have not lost since October 30, completed the double over Leicester with a comfortable 34-15 win, earning maximum points to take them a point behind leaders Wasps.
Their tries came from Kai Horstmann, Stuart Townsend, Mitch Lees and a penalty try, while Henry Slade kicked 14 points.
Michele Rizzo and Maxime Mermoz scored for the Tigers in a defeat which not only ended a three-match winning run but dealt a huge blow to their play-off hopes.
The match between second and fifth in the Premiership was all over bar the shouting at the end of the first half after Exeter built up a 27-8 lead after outscoring the Tigers three tries to one.
The Chiefs, losing finalists last year, recovered from conceding an early try to give Leicester a lesson in power, direct running and accurate kicking and thoroughly deserved their lead.
Leicester, in contrast, made too many errors, gifting Exeter two tries and playing for 10 minutes with 14 men after hooker Tom Youngs was sin-binned for collapsing a driving maul which earned Exeter a penalty try.
Despite a day of heavy rain, Leicester's new £250,000 pitch was perfectly playable but both sides opted to kick the leather off the ball, or keep it in the forwards, who earned the Tigers a fifth minute try, Italy prop Rizzo being awarded it by the TMO despite appearing to make a double movement.
Fly-half Owen Williams missed the conversion before taking far too long over a clearance. He was charged down by flanker Horstmann who celebrated a new one-year contract by picking up for an easy try under the posts, which Slade converted.
Leicester regained the lead with a 16th minute penalty but Exeter then stepped up several gears and hit Leicester with 20 unanswered points in 22 minutes.
Slade kicked a penalty and the referee awarded Exeter a penalty try in the 23rd minute after Leicester had collapsed a driving maul for the second time in a matter of minutes.
Slade kicked the conversion and then slotted another from the right touchline after scrum-half Townsend got the third try, profiting from former Tigers lock Geoff Parling popping up on the wing and driving to the line.
Slade slotted his second penalty on the stroke of half time to give his side a 19-point lead which could easily have been more.
Leicester hit back eight minutes into the second half when French centre Mermoz cut inside after some great forward drives to score his second try for the club, which Williams converted.
Winger Adam Thomstone thought he had pulled another five points back in the 53rd minute after appearing to score from Williams' cross kick but the TMO ruled it out.
The Tigers stepped up the pressure and Parling was sin-binned a minute later.
But Exeter made light of the loss to secure a bonus point with a try by lock Lees, converted by Slade, on the hour.
Winger James Short knocked on just short of the line but it mattered little as Exeter coasted to victory.