Exeter (9) 15
Pens: Davis 4, Steenson
Leicester (15) 22
Tries: A Tuilagi, Crane 2 Cons: Staunton, Flood Pen: Staunton
Jordan Crane scored a try in each half for Leicester Tigers
Jordan Crane scored a try in each half as Leicester Tigers held off a spirited challenge from Exeter to go top of the Premiership table.
Alesana Tuilagi scored the first try of the match, before Jeremy Staunton and Ryan Davis traded penalties.
Crane then scored his first try but Davis hit back with a penalty, as Tigers led 15-9 at the break.
Crane's second try proved crucial with 10 minutes remaining, despite kicks from Davis and Gareth Steenson.
Tigers took the lead in only the third minute as they took advantage of a loose ball on the left-hand side.
Alesana Tuilagi exchanged passes with brother Manu and the former went over in the corner - the try was given despite what looked like a forward pass.
Staunton missed the conversation but at the other end, Davis made no mistake with his first penalty-kick attempt four minutes later.
Staunton and Davis then exchanged successful penalty kicks, before Davis missed a regulation kick that would have given Exeter the lead midway through the half.
Leicester's second try came after 32 minutes with the Tigers underlining the dominance in the scrum. Crane powered through to score under the posts and Staunton duly converted.
Three minutes before the break Davis kicked his third penalty, but Leicester ended the half with a 15-9 lead.
The early stages of the second half were a little disjointed, but Davis made it a three-point game with another successful penalty kick.
Staunton and Davis then both missed penalty kicks as the game entered its final quarter - had the latter been successful it would have levelled the scores.
Exeter were dealt a hammer blow with 10 minutes remaining, as extensive Leicester pressure saw Crane score his second try of the match, converted by replacement Toby Flood, for a 10-point lead.
Replacement Steenson gave Exeter hope kicking over his first attempt at goal, but moments later his second effort come back off the crossbar, and with it went the home side's chance of a memorable victory.
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter:
"I told the boys in the dressing room at the end that we are at the stage now where the physical effort that we put into games is not an issue, we have known that for quite a while.
"But there is an element of also growing up a little and not being satisfied that we put in a big physical effort that keeps us in a tough game.
"The truth is we are still making mistakes in controlling the game that we were making earlier in the season."
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill:
"It was a bit of a workmanlike performance at times. I thought our tactics were pretty good and we controlled the game just about enough.
"If you want to try and be top of the Premiership table I think these wins are quite important. It [Sandy Park] is a difficult place to come and other sides will have difficulty getting points here.
"With all respect to Exeter, we know that we are probably the better side and it was just whether we could match that passion and stop them playing and I thought we did that well."
Exeter: Arscott; Sestaret, Shoemark, Naqelevuki, Foster; Davis, Thomas; Sturgess, Whitehead, Tui; Hayes (capt), Hanks; Johnson, Scaysbrook, Baxter.
Replacements: Steenson for Davis (71), Alcott for Whitehead (71), Budgen for Tui (54), Slade for Hanks (71).
Not Used: Moon, Ewers, Poluleuligaga, Dollman.
Leicester: Murphy (capt); Smith, M Tuilagi, Allen, A Tuilagi; Staunton, Youngs; Ayerza, Chuter, Cole; Deacon, Slater; Mafi, Newby, Crane.
Replacements: Agulla for Smith (71), Flood for Staunton (57), Hawkins for Chuter (74), Castrogiovanni for Cole (51), Waldrom for Mafi (54).
Not Used: White, Green, Grindal.
Ref: John Paul Doyle (RFU).