Manu Tuilagi scored a try as Exeter Chiefs missed the chance to go top of the Premiership table when they were beaten 31-27 by Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Sunday.
Saracens' defeat to Northampton Saints on Saturday meant Rob Baxter's side could replace the champions at the summit with a victory over the Tigers.
But it was Richard Cockerill's men who claimed maximum points, following up their hammering of London Irish last weekend by scoring four tries to the Chiefs' three to move into third place.
Tuilagi, who could make his England return against Wales next weekend, finished off a flowing first-half move and the Tigers were also awarded a penalty try to take a 17-6 lead at half-time, with Geoff Parling shown a yellow card against his former club.
Further tries from Peter Betham and Adam Thompstone put the Tigers in complete command at 31-6, with Freddie Burns converting both to take his tally with the boot to 11.
Two tries in the space of three minutes from Dave Lewis and Ian Whitten gave the Chiefs hope, then Kai Horstmann barged his way over to salvage a bonus point right at the end to cut the gap to Sarries to three points after the Tigers had withstood huge pressure.