Leicester Tigers beat London Irish 33-31 as the teams shared 10 tries at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Sunday.
In the first Gallagher Premiership game at home since the start of October, Tigers were 26-7 in front in the first half in the Round 11 contest, but had to survive a big fightback to take the points.
A try from Julián Montoya on his return from the autumn internationals provided a with just two minutes played and Tigers added three more in the opening half an hour through Richard Wigglesworth, Harry Potter and Tommy Reffell.
Irish had two of their own before the break, the second of which was a penalty try which also cost a yellow card for Olly Cracknell as Tigers reached the break 26-14 in front.
But two tries in four minutes from the visitors threatened to turn the game on its head as Irish brought the scores level with half an hour still to play and, after one more try each, it remained tight at 33-31 entering the final quarter before the outcome was finally settled.
Montoya was among five senior players welcomed back by Steve Borthwick from international duties, while Ollie Chessum returned after eight weeks on the sidelines.
Nemani Nadolo, who scored twice in this fixture last season, ran out for his 43rd and final appearance for the club before his return to Australia and earned a tremendous reception from the crowd on his way on and off the field.
The teams joined tributes to former Scotland and Lions lock Doddie Weir ahead of kick-off on a mild afternoon at Mattioli Woods Welford Road and Tigers were first on the attack and on the scoreboard.
Olly Cracknell scythed his way through the defensive line to win a penalty 22 metres out and, after going to the corner, the No8 was back on the ball before Montoya picked up at the back of a ruck and found his way over to score. Freddie Burns made it a seven-point score in front of the biggest home crowd of the season so far.
An offside in kickchase gave Irish an exit and Paddy Jackson judged his kick well into the right-hand corner for attacking position. Quick hands gave them a chance but lock Api Ratuniyawara was held up.
Within a few minutes, Irish had another opportunity and, when the lineout drive was held up, one more pass found Ratuniyawara and he had enough power to get over the line. The conversion from Jackson levelled the scores.
Tigers, though, quickly celebrated a second try, with scrum-half Wigglesworth sneaking around the blindside of a lineout drive to dive in, though the TMO did review several times before confirming.
Anthony Watson moved through the gears in a break from deep and, although Irish covered in defence, a sliced kick from full-back Tom Parton restricted their advance and Burns judged a prod into the corner perfectly before the whistle went against the home team at a maul.
Another piece of opportunism brought a third try as Tigers defended hard and, when Irish were forced into an error, Matt Scott reacted to pick up loose ball, break to halfway and then, assessing what was in front of him, measured his kick perfectly for Potter to chase. His midfield partner won the footrace, gathered possession and slid in for the score.
The conversion took Burns past 1,500 Premiership points and gave Tigers a 19-7 lead on 25 minutes.
He was back on the tee again after the bonus-point try from Reffell, scored following Irish indiscipline.
From a lineout penalty on halfway, Burns belted play into the left-hand corner just five metres short of the tryline and his colleagues made the most of the position, pushing the defence back and then gaining another penalty which set up a drive for Reffell to add the finish on the half-hour mark.
Tom Pearson led an Irish attack from the restart but, after beating the first tackler, he was penalised in possession as Reffell contested on the floor. But the Tigers flanker was penalised moments later with Irish backing their set-piece in the corner to provide a response.
Although Cracknell got under the final push by Pearson, the referee and TMO consulted replays before judging he had pulled down the maul short of the tryline and therefore awarded a seven-point score and sent the Tigers man to the sin bin.
Tigers began the second half still a man down, adding Nadolo to the forward pack to cover Cracknell's absence, but the Fiji international left the field to a big reception on 47 minutes, replaced by Guy Porter.
The England man had barely taken his place on the field before Irish claimed a third try, using another penalty to get Matt Rogerson over the line, and they added a fourth just moments later as Pearson smuggled possession in his own half and Ollie Hassell-Collins raced clear on the left touchline. Jackson was off-target, though, with the conversion with scores level at 26-26.
Chessum made his return alongside Jasper Wiese from the bench and the South African made an instant impact, carrying over the tryline from a period of pressure and Burns added the kick for a seven-point lead.
But Irish broke away again on the left, Hassell-Collins chasing his own kick ahead and then the support arriving to recycle ball for Pearson to pick up and beat the last defenders to score. Jackson missed the kick with two points between the teams.
A scrum penalty gave Tigers an opportunity on the right but they had to go back before going forward, finally settling for a drop goal shot but Burns pushed it right of the posts. The fly-half also missed a long-range penalty from a scrum penalty on halfway.
A combination of George Martin and Reffell stopped Irish progress in Tigers territory and then the forward pack resisted a lineout drive to wrap up the ball and their opponents to protect that narrow advantage.
Composure among the forwards negotiated the closing minutes, gaining penalties and territory as play reached the Irish five-metre line before finally bringing the game to an end with five points banked.