Leinster (6) 22
Shane Horgan (centre) scored the decisive try for Leinster
Pens: Contepomi 5
Leicester (6) 9
Pens: Goode 3
Last season's beaten finalists Leicester opened their Heineken Cup campaign with a defeat as Leinster produced a fine display in Dublin.
Two penalties apiece from Felipe Contepomi and Andy Goode meant it was 6-6 at half-time.
Contepomi landed two penalties early in the second half for Leinster before Shane Horgan powered over for a converted try to send the hosts clear.
Goode trimmed the gap with a penalty but the last word went to Contepomi.
On paper it looked like being a classic clash of styles, with Leicester's power game matched against Leinster's more fluid, offloading approach, and so it proved.
With Leinster playing against a stiff breeze in the first half the hosts were always going to keep the ball in hand where possible.
They took the lead through an early Contepomi penalty before the Tigers equalised in similar fashion through Goode.
The Tigers had a clear edge in the scrums and they enjoyed the upper hand in terms of both territory and possession.
The English champions attacked on a much narrower front than Leinster, launching their big ball carriers around the fringes, but the hosts' defence held firm.
It took Goode's second penalty to edge the visitors back into the lead but Contepomi soon levelled matters in similar fashion.
Leinster were being pinned back but several times they attacked from deep, with one thrilling break out, sparked by Girvan Dempsey, only being halted by a high tackle from Seru Rabeni.
Contepomi missed the penalty but with Goode having also failed to hit the target earlier the teams went in 6-6 at the break.
Leinster defended magnificently throughout the 80 minutes in Dublin
It was a poor reward for the Tigers, who had hammered away at Leinster for the last 10 minutes of the half, and with the conditions in their favour in the second 40 minutes Leinster would have been the happier team at the break.
They went back in front through Contepomi's penalty two minutes after the re-start and the Argentina playmaker soon added another to make it 12-6 before playing a important role as the hosts grabbed the decisive score.
He produced a superb run around in midfield with Brian O'Driscoll before Gordon D'Arcy freed Horgan.
The 6ft 4in Ireland wing powered over for his 23rd Heineken Cup try from just outside the 22 and Contepomi converted to make it 19-6.
If they were to get back in the game Leicester had to hit back soon and they launched a sustained series of attacks.
Several times they tried to maul their way over from close range but they were kept at bay by magnificent Leinster defence and all they could manage was a Goode penalty.
However, the hosts hit back in similar fashion through Contepomi and although he missed a late kick the result had already been decided.
Leicester nearly grabbed a consolation score and the chance of a losing bonus point when Geordan Murphy intercepted in the closing seconds.
But the Leinster defence managed to scramble back after a length-of-the-field chase and prevent the try as the hosts put a smile back on the face of Irish rugby after the Emerald Isle's torrid World Cup campaign.
Leinster fly-half and man-of-the-match Felipe Contepomi:
"If we have the ball then we know that we can attack, but I thought it was a superb defensive performance.
"I think we matched Leicester in the pack and it's important that we take it
step by step because we have a very difficult pool with three good contenders."
Leinster coach Michael Cheika:
"The control pleased me. We showed composure.
"In the past maybe we've been a bit guilty of going for too much. This time we tried to balance the opportunities to go and the opportunities to build field position. That's the standard we want to set for ourselves."
New Leicester head coach Marcelo Loffreda:
"It's not a good beginning but I am confident we will improve.
"We had (to take) a lot of pressure. Leinster played really good. Felipe played really smart. They not only put pressure on us but were very efficient when we had the ball.
"We got a bit repetitive in our game. We were going too quickly to ground and we didn't play well in the line-out either. We will have to work hard this week.
"The players will need to be patient with me and I will be patient with
Leinster: Dempsey, Horgan, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Kearney, Contepomi, Whitaker, le Roux, Jackman, Wright, Cullen, O'Kelly, Gleeson, Jennings, Heaslip.
Replacements: Blaney, Gomez, Jowitt, McLaughlin, Willis, Warner, Fitzgerald.
Leicester: G. Murphy, Rabeni, O. Smith, Hipkiss, Tuilagi, Goode, F. Murphy, Ayerza, Kayser, White, L. Deacon, Kay, Corry, Moody, Crane.
Replacements: Davies, Castrogiovanni, Hamilton, Abraham, Laussucq, Burke, J. Murphy.
Referee: C Berdos (France)