Premiership: Leicester Tigers 25-18 Exeter Chiefs
|Leicester Tigers (12) 25|
|Try: Parling Con: Burns Pens: F. Burns 6|
|Exeter Chiefs (3) 18|
|Tries: Waldrom, Chudley Con: Slade Pens: Slade 2|
Leicester moved into the top four in the Premiership table after a hard-fought win against play-off rivals Exeter at a blustery Welford Road.
Tigers' Freddie Burns slotted four first-half penalties while Chiefs' Henry Slade only kicked one from three.
Burns added another penalty before Exeter's Thomas Waldrom and Leicester's Geoff Parling - who will join Exeter next season - exchanged tries.
Chiefs' Will Chudley touched down but Burns' sixth penalty secured the win.
Victory for Richard Cockerill's Leicester means they move a point above Exeter, while Chiefs gained a losing bonus point thanks to Slade's last-minute penalty.
The home side welcomed back England quartet Ben Youngs, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole and Parling, while Exeter number eight Waldrom - the Premiership's leading try scorer this season - returned to Welford Road for the first time since his summer move to Devon.
Slade missed two early penalties for the visitors, the first from beyond the halfway line, but Burns made no mistake from the tee to give Leicester the lead.
|Exeter to miss out on the play-offs again?|
|Since winning promotion to the top flight in 2010, Exeter Chiefs have never reached the top four. Their highest finish was fifth in 2011-12.|
Exeter began to push forward but their attacking play was littered with handling errors, before Burns extended the advantage with his second penalty following a break from Ben Youngs.
Slade finally got Chiefs' first points on the board midway through the first half with a kick from the tee after the hosts were caught offside.
The visitors continued to camp themselves within touching distance of Leicester's try line but were unable to break through a solid home defence, and Burns took advantage by adding two more penalties to give Leicester a nine-point lead at the break.
Burns continued his 100% kicking record a minute after the restart following a tackle off the ball on Tom Youngs, but Waldrom bundled over his 13th of the season to put the visitors back in the game.
Slade, who struggled with his kicking throughout the afternoon, struck the post with the easiest of conversions before Parling crossed the whitewash following superb hands from Sebastian De Chaves.
Chudley got a try back for Exeter following a superb break from Slade, which he converted, but Burns made it six from six from the tee.
Slade added his second penalty following an infringement in the scrum for the extra point, which could prove crucial in the race to finish in the top four.
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill:
"I thought the performance all round was very good and our attitude to workrate has always been great.
"We're not smart enough sometimes but we never lack for effort and I thought the attitude of the boys wanting to win was outstanding.
"Hopefully we will get to the play-offs. We have got some very tough games coming up, but we're well in the mix for top four - that was obviously our target at the start of the season and it still is now.
"If we get it right, we can still get a home semi-final."
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter:
"I'm not frustrated at all, a bonus point away at Welford Road this time of year is always good.
"When you come here you have to play very, very well to get anything. I think we played very well in the second half.
"I think all our frustrations as a team, and my frustration as a coach was with our first half. We just weren't mentally strong enough to withstand any kind of pressure at all.
"Great credit to Leicester, they weathered an awful lot of possession from us and an awful lot of phases and limited our scoring opportunities massively and that's a great credit to them."
Leicester Tigers: Tait; Thompstone, Smith, Bai, Benjamin; F. Burns, B. Youngs (capt); Ayerza, T. Youngs, Cole, De Chaves, Parling, Gibson, Salvi, Crane.
Replacements: Ghiraldini, Mulipola, Balmain, Whetton, Pearce, Harrison, Bell, Goneva.
Exeter Chiefs: Dollman; Whitten, Nowell, Hill, Jess; Slade, Chudley; Rimmer, Yeandle, Brown, Lees, Welch, Ewers, Mumm (capt), Waldrom.
Replacements: Taione, Moon, Low, White, Horstmann, Lewis, Steenson, James.
Ref: JP Doyle (Ireland).