London Irish (3) 6
Penalties: Geraghty 2
Leicester Tigers (9) 12
Penalties: Burns 2, Mele Drop-goal: Burns
Leicester Tigers beat London Irish in a tight encounter to boost their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premiership.
Leicester dominated the scrum in the first half, with Exiles prop Geoff Cross sin-binned before the break.
Freddie Burns kicked two penalties and added a drop-goal to give the visitors a 9-3 half-time lead in windy and rainy conditions at the Madejski Stadium.
Exiles fly-half Shane Geraghty replied with his second penalty but David Mele made sure of the points for the Tigers.
Leicester climb to sixth, level on points with fifth-placed Sale and Wasps in seventh, while a losing bonus point takes London Irish level with 10th-placed Newcastle.
London Irish were forced into a late change after centre Fergus Mulchrone failed a late fitness test, with Tom Fowlie moving in from the wing to replace him and Alex Lewington coming into the starting XV.
Leicester controlled possession and territory early on and Burns kicked the visitors into a 9-0 lead, with two penalties for infringements at the scrum either side of a drop-goal.
After Topsy Ojo went off with a knee injury, forcing another reshuffle in the Irish backs, the home side got their first points just before the half-hour mark through Geraghty.
Leicester’s utter dominance of the scrum continued when Scotland international Cross was sent to the sin-bin on 34 minutes.
But Tigers fly-half Burns missed the opportunity to extend their lead and then sent another penalty wide of the posts on the stroke of half-time.
London Irish came close to scoring the game’s first try after the break, but their forwards were repelled by the Tigers defence, who eventually won a penalty.
Another penalty from Geraghty pulled Irish to within three points but Mele, who came on for Burns at the break, made it 12-6 shortly afterwards.
On a gloomy afternoon in Reading, difficult conditions made for a scrappy second period.
Irish had a late scrum deep in Leicester territory, which could have provided an opportunity to score a late try, but Leicester’s forwards reasserted their dominance to ease the pressure.
Fenby; Ojo, Fowlie, Sheridan, Lewington; Geraghty, Steele; Court, Paice, Cross, Skivington (capt), Sinclair, Treviranus, Gilsenan, Guest.
Stevens, Parr, Halavatau, Rouse, Narraway, Allinson, Noakes, Griffin.
Tait; Goneva, Catchpole, Roberts, Benjamin; Burns, Harrison; Ayerza, Youngs, Mulipola, De Chaves, Kitchener, Croft, Gibson, Crane (capt).
Briggs, Rizzo, Balmain, Whetton, Pearce, Mele, Bai, Morris.