Scrum-half Gavin Steenson earns Exeter victory over Leicester
Exeter moved into second place in the Aviva Premiership table as Gavin Steenson scored all their points in a 19-6 victory over Leicester at Sandy Park.
The Devon side went into the break 13-3 ahead after Steenson converted his own try after five minutes before adding two penalties with the Tigers replying through a late Owen Williams penalty.
The third quarter was scoreless before Williams reduced the arrears with a simple penalty but Steenson, having missed one attempt, added two penalties to send the crowd into spontaneous applause at the final whistle.
Exeter made three changes from the side that thrashed Newcastle last time out with England international Jack Nowell returning on the wing, Alec Hepburn was at loosehead prop and Ian Whitten at inside centre.
Ben Youngs returned at scrum-half in a Leicester side led for the first time by his hooker brother Tom. Number eight Jordan Crane made his first start of the season with Dom Barrow in the second row having made his debut off the bench in last week's win over Wasps.
Exeter had the first opportunity to kick a penalty but opted to kick for the corner. Following the catch and drive skipper Steenson stretched for the line before adding the extras from out wide on the right.
Leicester tested the Chiefs defence midway through the half but the home side kept their line in tact with at least a dozen tackles until lock Dom Barrow spilled a loose pass to allow the home side to clear upfield.
Exeter's confidence increased during the half as they again decided to turn down three points. The ball was thrown to the front of the lineout and back to Luke Cowan-Dickie but the hooker was bundled into touch by Tom Croft just short of the line.
With less than 10 minutes of the half remaining Tigers looked to have scored in the right corner through wing Adam Thompstone but, after consulting the TMO, referee Greg Garner ruled that had not grounded before knocking on and disallowed the score.
Leicester, annoyed by the decision, tried to up the pace but again the Exeter defence stood firm and countered. Steenson added penalties either side of a 35-metre kick from his opposite number Williams.
The scoreboard remained the same as the game went into the final quarter until the Tigers' pressure paid off as Williams stepped up to land his second penalty to take them within a score of their hosts.
That looked to be short-lived when flanker Lachlan McCaffrey was penalised on the ground but Steenson's long-range attempt from close to the right touchline was, to the surprise of the 10,102 packed into Sandy Park, off target.
Exeter then pinned the Tigers back into their own 22 with the visitors prepared to try to run themselves out of danger. Tigers were penalised at a scrum and Steenson made no mistake this time to widen the gap to 10 points with five minutes to play.
The Chiefs maintained the pressure and Nowell crossed the line but his score was disallowed when referred to the TMO before replacement Riccardo Brugnara was yellow-carded for a wild kick on Jack Yeandle.
Referee Garner reversed a penalty so Steenson slotted the resultant kick between the uprights to take the game out of the Tigers' reach.