Leicester Tigers dug deep to secure a 12-6 Aviva Premiership victory over London Irish on Sunday afternoon.
In a game of few try-scoring opportunities, the Tigers scrum won a string of penalties to provide the platform for victory at the Madejski Stadium.
Freddie Burns kicked two of those penalties and a drop goal in the first half before replacement fly-half David Mele landed a penalty in the second half to complete Leicester's scoring. On a wet and windy afternoon and on a sticky pitch, Irish replied through two penalties for Shane Geraghty.
Jordan Crane captained Tigers in his 200th appearance for the club. He was joined in the pack by Tom Youngs and Tom Croft on their return from England duty in the RBS 6 Nations.
Jack Roberts earned a first Aviva Premiership start at centre partnering George Catchpole, while Miles Benjamin returned on the wing.
Heavy rain and a stiffening wind greeted the two teams at kick-off and continued for the duration of the game.
Tigers were called on to defend in the opening exchanges and did so with plenty of intent, forcing Irish back towards halfway before forcing a knock-on and counterattacking through Vereniki Goneva. However, the winger was dragged down midway inside the hosts' half by former Tigers wing Alex Lewington.
Tigers won a penalty at the first scrum, setting the tone for the game. Burns landed his kick from close to halfway on the left touchline to give Leicester a 3-0 lead after six minutes.
Burns was unable to repeat the trick when the Tigers scrum won another penalty at the game's second scrum, his kick drifting narrowly wide.
Burns' kicking out of hand was excellent in the opening 10 minutes, his up-and-under was knocked on by Andrew Fenby on the edge of the Irish 22 before a grubber found the left corner to put the hosts under pressure on their own lineout.
Croft stole possession at that lineout and Tigers worked the position for Burns to land a drop goal to double the lead.
Good work by Jamie Gibson then ended an Irish break, the flanker isolated Conor Gilsenan in the Leicester 22 and won a holding-on penalty.
The Irish back three let Mathew Tait's up-and-under bounce on the edge of their 22 but Roberts was unable to hold on to a slippery ball as he eyed a route to the left corner.
Another solid scrum earned Tigers a third penalty at the set-piece, which Burns knocked over to move Tigers 9-0 ahead after 22 minutes.
Tigers appeared to have the elements at their back in the first half and the first 25 minutes was played predominantly in Irish territory.
Geraghty tried to change that with a kick in behind the Leicester defence and when Tait to returned the ball, his kick was charged down. However, Burns was alert to the danger and mopped up the loose ball and cleared to touch.
Tigers were pinged at the resulting lineout, the first penalty against them coming in the 28th minute, and Geraghty slotted his kick to put the hosts on the board.
It signalled Irish's first period of possession in the Leicester half since the opening minute. However, the Tigers defence stood tall and eventually forced the knock-on and Goneva cleared deep into Irish territory.
Tigers continued to dominate the scrum and were awarded another penalty in the 35th minute for which Exiles tighthead prop Geoff Cross was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements. However, Burns was unable to add the penalty from close to halfway.
Prop Leo Halavatau came on for the Irish at the next scrum, but Tigers continued to dominate and won another penalty with half-time approaching. However, Burns' kick from halfway landed short.
Burns was replaced by David Mele at the break with the Frenchman taking over at fly-half, a position he had occupied on a number of occasions for former club Perpignan.
Helevatau remained on the pitch at the end of the sin bin period and Irish looked to take the game to Tigers with a full set of players. Ofisa Treviranus broke from the back of a maul to force Tigers into defence on their own line. Irish kept it tight but hooker David Paice was pinged for a double movement.
Geraghty put the first points of the second half on the board for the Irish after Croft was whistled at a ruck. The penalty cut Leicester's lead to 9-6 with 28 minutes remaining.
Tigers continued to keep it tight in the wet conditions and made good ground through Crane and Tom Youngs before winning a penalty at the breakdown. Mele, who had assumed kicking duties, landed the penalty to move Tigers 12-6 ahead.
The rain continued to pour down making for difficult handling conditions, underlined by Tom Fowlie's knock-on in midfield just as a gap appeared to open for the Irish centre.
Tigers had to withstand a period of Irish pressure as the Exiles searched for the try that could bring them victory. The hosts went through phase after phase to inch their way towards the Leicester line but were eventually whistled for holding on.
Irish continued to ask questions of the Tigers defence, Geraghty forcing them to run back towards their own line with a grubber that beat his wing Eoin Griffin in to touch.
But Tigers continued to have the upper hand at scrum time and, with an all-changed front row, won a penalty that allowed Mele to find touch to ease the pressure with full-time approaching.
Fittingly, it was from a final scrum that Mele was able to find touch one last time to secure a fourth away win of the campaign.