Then came the defining moment of the game with the Ospreys being awarded a penalty at the foot of the home posts.
Ryan Jones ordered a scrum, but it was the Tigers who came up with the ball and cleared their lines to snuff out the match-losing threat.
"We let a real chance go begging in the end, but I'm still very proud of the players. They showed great character to hang in there right to the end," said Holley.
"It was a smash and grab raid gone missing. But we have the consolation of a losing bonus point and we are still right in this Pool and fighting.
"It is a measure of how far we have come as a team that a packed house at Welford Road, and all the Leicester Tigers players, were so happy with a 12-6 victory. We have come here in the past and been blown away in the second half, but I thought our tactical substitutions worked well for us this time and we were right in their fighting to the end.
"We need to be a bit more clinical and we need to learn from this game and improve before we meet Perpignan next weekend. But overall I'm quietly pleased."