Leicester captain Tom Youngs was sent off as the Tigers were thumped 52-20 at home by Gallagher Premiership table-toppers Exeter Chiefs to increase their relegation fears.
Youngs saw red in the 56th minute at Welford Road following a shoulder charge to the head of Exeter lock Ollie Atkins at a ruck.
Leicester, who brought in veteran Mike Ford to assist head coach Geordan Murphy earlier in the week, have just two wins in 2019 and sit just five points from the Premiership drop with four games to play. Exeter remain at the summit of the table.
The Chiefs ran riot, scoring seven tries with the bonus-point wrapped up before half-time.
Rob Baxter’s side were good value for their victory and demonstrated their status as the Premiership team to beat with a ruthless attacking display.
It took just 10 minutes to assert their lead when number eight Matt Kvesic beat two tackles on his way to the try line.
Tigers responded through George Ford’s penalty, but it was not long
before further Leicester errors gave Exeter their second score of the
Captain Jack Yeandle battled over, brushing off two tackles from Graham Kitchener and Mike Williams.
Leicester found an immediate response through wing Jonny May after Matt Toomua’s outrageous looped ball, but Manu Tuilagi’s involvement in
the aftermath – appearing to strike Kvesic – cost Tigers with a needless
penalty from the kick-off.
Tuilagi was made to pay for the altercation as Henry Slade hit touch from the restart to put Exeter on the front foot once more.
Santiago Cordero passed to Ollie Woodburn who bumped off Toomua before squeezing into the corner.
Exeter deservedly claimed the bonus point in the 31st minute.
Slade – on his 100th Premiership start – touched down after Woodburn breezed past loose defending from Tuilagi and Ford for the assist.
Joe Simmonds converted all four of Exeter’s first-half tries.
Leicester offered a brief fight back before the break, capitalising from Jack Nowell’s yellow card, with Ford scoring a penalty before converting hooker Youngs’ try.
But Exeter extinguished any chance of a home comeback minutes after the interval. Simmonds continued from where he left off by kicking a penalty, before the Chiefs had their fifth try through Ollie Devoto following Slade’s excellent run.
Try number six soon followed as more lacklustre defending allowed Cordero to go through with Simmonds remaining perfect from the tee.
Toomua appeared to give Leicester some hope, but his try in the corner was brought back by the TMO as referee Thomas Foley sent off Youngs for his careless charge on Atkins.
That capped off a miserable day for the hosts – who announced before kick-off that Ben Youngs would require surgery on a shoulder injury and
would miss the rest of the season.
Nowell ran from his own 22 to the try-line for the seventh as the Chiefs eased to the half-century to confirm their impressive victory.