A pair of penalty tries rewarded Leicester Tigers’ never-say-die attitude as they came from behind to secure a hard-fought 19-14 Aviva Premiership against Worcester Warriors to move top of the table.
Trailing 14-0 just before the half-time interval, Tigers grabbed a try through Scott Hamilton before their scrum proved too powerful and earned seven points midway through the second half, and decisively right at the death.
With Worcester 14-12 to the good and just two minutes on the clock, Leicester embarked on a length-of-the-field move which led to the home side having to concede a five-metre scrum.
And the Leicester pack proved too powerful, earning their third try of the night to secure the four points.
Worcester, unbeaten since the opening day of the season at Sixways, made the stronger start and Leicester flanker Tom Croft, making his first appearance since a long-term neck injury, was penalised after 12 minutes for not rolling away.
Straight in front of the post, former Leicester man Andy Goode made no mistake to hand Worcester the lead and things got even better for the hosts seven minutes later when they scored the first try of the game.
Impressive young flanker Matt Kvesic made the initial break before Jon Clarke took the ball on, found the gap and then handed over to full-back Chris Pennell, who sent David Lemi diving over in the corner.
Goode missed the conversion but just five minutes later he was on target with another penalty after Martin Castrogiovanni was pinged for not releasing Aleki Lutui in the tackle.
Croft then conceded his second penalty of the night and again Goode was on target, handing the Warriors a 14-0 lead after half an hour with the Tigers shell-shocked.
In the closing stages of the first half, Leicester gave themselves a lifeline however when JP Doyle, following TMO consultation, awarded Scott Hamilton a try when he was put into the corner by Mathew Tait, after Toby Flood had kicked a penalty to the corner.
To compound matters for Worcester, Goode was sent to the sin bin on the stroke of half-time for use of the knee in trying to stop Hamilton’s score but Flood missed the conversion, handing the Warriors a nine-point lead at the break.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, it was Worcester who had the better of the early second-half exchanges and they were awarded a penalty when Jonny Arr made a half-break and the Tigers were penalised for being offside.
Without Goode on the pitch however, the kicking duties fell to Pennell, who hit the upright and was then off target with another penalty just two minutes later, letting Leicester off the hook.
And the Tigers ground their way back into the match, winning a scrum near the Worcester try-line and bringing on powerhouse front rows Marcos Ayerza and Dan Cole for it.
A powerful push from the Tigers pack left referee Doyle with little option to award the penalty try, swiftly converted by Flood to take the scores to 14-12.
Try as they might however, Leicester struggled to move into the lead but they were awarded a penalty with seven minutes remaining, only for Flood to see his kick drop agonisingly short of the crossbar.
But with just a couple of minutes to go, Leicester broke down the field and Flood found Thomas Waldrom, whose kick forward failed to find Steve Mafi but his chase forced the covering Warriors defenders to take the ball over their own line and concede the decisive scrum.
Flood kicked the conversion and while there was just enough time for the restart, there was not enough time for Worcester to get back into the match and they were forced to settle for a losing bonus point.