Exeter replace Leicester in fourth with impressive win at Sandy Park
Exeter claimed a convincing 31-10 win over Leicester to leapfrog the Tigers into fourth place in the Aviva Premiership.
Jack Yeandle and Thomas Waldrom went over in the opening 20 minutes while an Ollie Devoto score and a penalty try also helped Exeter to a bonus point victory at a sold-out Sandy Park.
It was the first time in 50 years that Leicester had played on Christmas Eve and they will not remember the occasion with any fondness.
In the first half they had no answer to the pace and power of the Chiefs, who had the game all but sewn up by the interval after establishing a 21-0 lead.
Leicester finally got on the scoreboard in the second half through tries from replacements Harry Thacker and Jono Kitto, but the damage had already been done.
The Tigers opted to rest both the Youngs brothers, Ben and Tom, with Ed Slater taking over the captaincy and Sam Harrison stepping in at scrum-half for his 50th start for the club.
However, Leicester made a bad start by conceding a fourth-minute try to Yeandle, who finished off a driving line-out. Gareth Steenson kicked the conversion before Exeter proceeded to dominate the opening 20 minutes.
The home side turned down a number of kickable penalties in favour of attacking line-outs and were rewarded with their second try in the 19th minute, another a close-range effort this time from ex-Tiger Waldrom. It was the number eight's 44th try in only 68 appearances for the Chiefs.
Steenson's conversion gave his side a healthy 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter before Tigers suffered a further setback when they lost flanker Mike Williams to injury on his first start after more than two months on the sidelines.
Graham Kitchener replaced Williams but his introduction could not galvanise the visitors.
Exeter also lost a player when Henry Slade limped off to be replaced by Sam Hill, but the change did not stop their momentum as the Chiefs continued to play all the attacking rugby.
The Tigers struggled to cope with the pressure and Kitchener was yellow carded for a deliberate offside in the 33rd minute, with the Chiefs being awarded a penalty try in the process to complete a miserable half for the visitors.
Before Kitchener had returned, Steenson extended Exeter's lead to 24-0 with a penalty.
Immediately after that Leicester introduced Dan Cole for his first action since appearing in England's autumn internationals, and that change produced dividends as it coincided with Tigers finally raising their game.
Manu Tuilagi made a sharp outside break before Ellis Genge powered past two defenders and Slater was narrowly denied by an excellent tackle from Jack Nowell.
They were not to be denied for long, though, and deservedly got on the board after 57 minutes when Thacker forced his way over from a driving line-out as Tigers became increasingly more competitive.
Any hopes of a late revival came to an end in the 66th minute, however, when Exeter sealed the win with their bonus point try from Devoto, who rounded off an impressive passing movement.
Leicester immediately responded with a try from Kitto after Jack Roberts had broken through the home defence but despite an improved second-half performance, the visitors were well beaten.