Adam Thompstone’s second-half try and the mis-firing boot of George Ford was enough to see Leicester Tigers squeeze past Bath Rugby in an ill-tempered Aviva Premiership affair at Welford Road.
Bath held a 5-0 advantage at half-time thanks to Stephen Donald’s try and extended their lead after the break, following a couple of Ford penalties, through a Tom Biggs score.
But the referee then took centre stage as three red cards were shown, two to Bath for Francois Louw and Matt Banahan and one for Tigers’ Brett Deacon.
And Leicester made the most of the man advantage as wing Thompstone touched down and Ford added the rest of the points with the boot to see his side over the line.
There were only four minutes on the clock when Donald had his first shot at the posts after Horacio Agulla’s chip and chase was blocked by Deacon, but the Kiwi’s effort flew wide of the right upright.
He could have been made to rue that miss six minutes later as Ford lined up his own penalty attempt in front of the posts, but his kick went left of the posts and the scores remained unchanged.
But all that changed on 14 minutes as Donald made amends for his earlier mis-kick with his second Aviva Premiership try of the season.
The fly-half collected the ball after a successful break from Nick Abendanon and he skipped past Thompstone and Mathew Tait, the full-back making his first Welford Road start for 14 months, before touching down on the right.
However the World Cup winner’s woes with the boot continued as his conversion attempt had the direction but fell short of the uprights.
Ford had the chance to get Leicester on the scoreboard moments later but he too continued to struggle from the tee, missing another attempt in front of the posts as the ball cannoned off the right upright.
The home side continued to dominate proceedings but found Bath’s defence in fine form.
And when they did finally get over the whitewash, following a fine passage of play that saw them flow from left to right, they were denied by the Television Match Official who chalked off Niall Morris’ try for a forward pass from Graham Kitchener.
On 34 minutes Leicester looked like they were in again, this time a sweeping move going from right to left, only for Ford’s long pass to Thompstone to fall just short of the wing.
After heading into half-time scoreless Leicester were finally on the scoresheet as Ford finally found his range with the boot, knocking over a 44th-minute penalty to get the Tigers’ faithful roaring.
And the game looked like swinging in the hosts’ favour as Bath No.8 Simon Taylor was sin-binned for an arm across Tait’s face with the full-back in full flow following a chip and chase.
Leicester made the most of the man advantage as Ford kicked Leicester into the lead for the first time on 56 minutes.
But just moments later Bath had their second try of the game to go back ahead, Donald finding Banahan on the left wing and he flicked the ball inside to Biggs to go over, Donald adding the extras.
However the game swung back in Leicester’s favour on the hour mark as Louw was shown a red card for an elbow on Kitchener, the Tigers immediately making the most of the advantage as Morris sent Thompstone over in the left corner for his fifth try in six Aviva Premiership appearances.
Ford missed the conversion to leave the Tigers just a point behind but they were soon 14-12 ahead as the fly-half added another penalty.
Referee Tim Wigglesworth was brandishing the red card again on 65 minutes as both sides were reduced, Banahan for a high tackle on Anthony Allen, who was stretchered off, and Deacon for punching Banahan in the face in retaliation.
The referee was busy still on 66 minutes as Donald was shown a yellow card, allowing Ford to give Leicester some breathing space, his penalty going over off the left upright.
Abendanon kept his Bath side in the game with a great last-ditch tackle on Dan Bowden with the tryline at his mercy, but the visitors couldn’t muster an attack and the Tigers saw out the win.