Steve Borthwick gave credit to Exeter Chiefs for their victory at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday while showing disappointment that Leicester Tigers were unable to build on their first-half performance.
Tigers led 13-7 at half-time after a try from Calum Green – his first for the club – and a dogged defensive performance against the defending Gallagher Premiership and European champions.
But Chiefs turned up the pressure in the second half and pulled away with back-to-back tries just before the hour mark and another quickfire pair in the closing stages to record a 35-13 triumph and make it three bonus-point wins from three at the start of the season.
“There were steps forward in some areas, but we are looking to win games,” said Tigers head coach Borthwick.
“For a large period, we were potentially in a position to contest the win, but they took it away from us. They showed their calibre and got on top of us.
“We defended well against an excellent Exeter maul and we have to take the lessons of what we did well, but it is a very, very disappointed dressing room because we want to win games. We need to make sure we build on the positives and eradicate those areas that let us down.
“At half-time we were in the battle, that was a big positive, but we want to convert those opportunities.
“The penalty count was too high, unfortunately then they put you under enormous pressure. Unfortunately, we made some mistakes and, disappointingly, gave in to some of that pressure and gave some errors away to that pressure. They did it very well and credit to them.
“We gave away penalties that were disappointing, but that is the way Exeter play. We need to be better than we were today so we don’t concede those penalties.”
Tigers begin their European Challenge Cup campaign back on home territory on Friday against French visitors Brive and then go to Bayonne before returning to Gallagher Premiership duty against Newcastle Falcons and Bath during the Christmas period.