Aviva Premiership: Leicester edge out Exeter Chiefs in dour struggle
Leicester climbed into second place in the Aviva Premiership table after an attritional 12-9 victory at Exeter.
Last Updated: 23/03/13 7:09pm
Toby Flood kicked four penalties, while Gareth Steenson replied with three for the hosts, whose hopes of a Heineken Cup berth suffered a major blow with the defeat.
The sides were evenly matched in the opening minutes and Steenson and Flood exchanged early penalties.
The Exeter scrum was outmuscled in the front row and conceded three penalties, with Flood slotting the third through the uprights. The home side hit back immediately with Steenson's second after lock Dean Mumm was taken out at the line-out.
Flood's third penalty, from 38 metres in front of the posts, nudged the Tigers back into the lead to set up a crucial final 10 minutes of the half - but neither side had been able to make any real progress when in the opposition 22.
Leicester looked set to score in the final minutes of the half as Ben Youngs passed outside to Matthew Tait - but, with a three overlap, the full-back took the wrong option and was tackled short of the line by wing Jack Nowell.
Jason Shoemark was able to clear upfield which led, after a Tait knock-on and with wing Niall Morris offside, to Steenson landing his third penalty of the half from close to the left touchline to level the scores at 9-9.
Both sides upped the pace at the start of the second half and with 25 minutes remaining both coaches brought on reinforcements as legs began to tire.
The introduction of skipper Martin Castrogiovanni did little to strengthen the Tigers' efforts as the Italian international was troubled by Chiefs Carl Rimmer and was pinged for standing-up.
Then, after a short break from Flood, Castrogiovanni was penalised on the Chiefs' 22 for crossing.
Flood took advantage of the wind at his back and landed a 35-metre penalty to put Leicester back in to the lead with 10 minutes remaining.
The home side won a penalty in the final minute when Castrogiovanni was penalised for collapsing the scrum - but Steenson's attempt from the left touchline fell just short of the target.