Exeter missed the chance to return to the top of the Aviva Premiership standings as they were beaten 20-13 by Leicester in a high intensity game at Welford Road.
It was a match revolving around yellow cards and Exeter can count themselves unlucky losers with fly-half Gareth Steenson’s last minute penalty for a bonus point being scant reward.
Jonny May and Nick Malouf scored the Leicester tries with George Ford converting both and adding a penalty and drop goal.
Exeter were awarded a penalty try with Steenson kicking two penalties and the conversion.
Both sides suffered injury blows prior to kick-off. Exeter’s Jack Nowell withdrew with a dead leg suffered in training while Leicester prop Ellis Genge picked up a back injury in the warm-up.
Exeter started quickly to take a fifth minute lead with a Steenson penalty before dominating the opening quarter but the fly-half’s penalty was their sole reward.
Minutes later the game turned when Exeter flanker Julian Salvi was shown a yellow card after an illegal clear out at a ruck when the flanker drove into Telusa Veainu.
That was the spur that Leicester needed as Veainu ran elusively to evade a couple of tackles and gain his side a five-metre scrum. From there the hosts made numbers count when a long pass from Matt Toomua sent Malouf over in the corner.
Ford converted with an excellent kick before Leicester were fortunate to escape a yellow card for Malouf when he tackled Exeter full-back Phil Dollman in the air.
Salvi returned from the sin-bin with no further damage done but a neat drop goal from Ford gave Tigers a 10-3 interval lead.
Eight minutes after the restart, Ford extended the advantage with a penalty after a no arms tackle by Ben Moon on Sione Kalamafoni.
However, Exeter responded with a try when Veainu knocked down a scoring pass from Dollman to Lachie Turner. The referee correctly awarded a penalty try and Veainu was shown yellow.
That score brought the Chiefs back to a three-point deficit going into the final quarter and they gained further momentum when Tigers conceded valuable territory when a penalty was awarded against Malouf for an attempted trip on Olly Woodburn.
A yellow card should have been awarded against the Leicester wing, who escaped for the second time in the match following his high tackle in the first half.
Exeter then chose an attacking line-out in preference to a kick a goal but it proved the incorrect call as they lost possession for the hosts to regroup and score the decisive try.
Dollman dropped a routine catch and an alert pass from Ben Youngs gave May the chance to race away and score.