Pro14: Leinster beat Cheetahs to book home semi-final with four rounds to spare
|Pro14: Leinster v Cheetahs|
|Leinster (12) 19|
|Tries: C O'Brien, A Byrne, O'Loughlin Cons: R Byrne 2|
|Cheetahs (7) 7|
|Try: Maxwane Con: Schoeman|
Leinster guaranteed themselves a Pro14 home semi-final as they secured top spot in Conference B with four games to spare with a 19-7 win over Cheetahs.
Conor O'Brien and Sibahle Maxwane exchanges tries before Adam Byrne's touchdown left the champions 12-7 ahead at the interval at a rain-hit RDS.
Rory O'Loughlin's 55th-minute try extended Leinster's advantage as they earned a 15th victory in 17 games.
Leinster lead second-placed Benetton by 26 points in Conference B.
An early kicking battle was broken up by prop Ox Nche's ninth-minute sin-binning for catching Fergus McFadden with a late shoulder charge.
Leo Cullen's men immediately took advantage, mauling up close before centre O'Brien powered over to the left of the posts for Ross Byrne to convert.
Maxwane's searing pace, however, turned a hack downfield by Benhard Janse van Rensburg into the flying winger's 13th try of the PRO14 season, with Tian Schoeman's conversion drawing the visitors level.
Leinster regained the lead early in the second quarter as winger Byrne, fed by O'Loughlin's long pass, stepped inside Maxwane's tackle and touched down under pressure from Louis Fouche.
Ireland prop Andrew Porter conceded two penalties following his 43rd-minute introduction but a line-out infringement, in particular, went unpunished, with Schoeman pushing his kick wide from the right.
Leinster eventually managed to get the scoreboard moving again approaching the hour mark.
The visitors initially defended a maul threat but O'Loughlin chipped over the top, dinked the ball on and won the race to the touchdown, with fly-half Byrne added a well-struck conversion from the left.
Leinster ended the game hunting for a bonus-point score through their forwards but Cheetahs held them at bay.
Leinster: Kearney; Byrne, O'Loughlin, O'Brien, McFadden; R Byrne, Gibson-Park; Dooley, B Byrne, Bent, Molony, Fardy, Ruddock (capt), Deegan, Doris.
Replacements: Tracy, E Byrne, Porter, M Kearney, Murphy, O'Sullivan, Reid, Daly.
Cheetahs: Fouche; Small-Smith, van Rensburg, Swanepoel, Maxwane; Schoeman, Meyer; Nche, R Venter, Coetzee, Steenkamp, du Preez, Olivier, Nonkontwana, Pokomela.
Replacements: du Toit, Marais, du Bruin, Manjezi, van der Merwe, H Venter, Paige, S Venter.