Benetton 0 Leinster 18: Irish side top seeds for Heineken Champions Cup knockout stages
|Heineken Champions Cup Pool One|
|Benetton (0) 0|
|Leinster (3) 18|
|Tries: Doris, Tracy Con: Byrne Pens: Byrne 2|
Leinster will top the seeds for the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup after an 18-0 win over a battling Benetton side in Italy.
Benetton produced sustained first-half pressure but failed to score any points as a Ross Byrne penalty left a subdued Leinster 3-0 ahead at the break.
After a second successful Byrne penalty, tries from Caelan Doris and James Tracy made the game safe.
With Leinster struggling for fluency, they had to rely on their pack's power.
Wet and windy conditions at Stadio di Monigo made handling different but Leinster lacked urgency in the opening period - in contrast to Benetton's obvious appetite for the battle.
The four-time winners' sixth straight Pool 1 victory - their 16th straight wins in all competitions this year - guarantees them a home quarter-final while they will also have home advantage if they reach the last four.
With scrum-half Tito Tebaldi directing his troops impressively, Benetton started on the front foot but a Eli Snyman knock-on saw an early attack coming to nothing before Federico Zani was held up just short of the Leinster line.
Doris' 17th-minute sin-binning for a line-out infringement offered Benetton further encouragement but the home side failed to exploit the advantage as Sean Cronin's turnover saw Luca Morisi penalised as the Leinster line beckoned.
Leinster's only first-half attacks came after a couple of Luke McGrath darts but they did go in 3-0 ahead at the break after Byrne punished a maul infringement in the 35th minute.
Benetton lock Irne Herbst, who had been impressive in the first half, was yellow carded immediately after the restart for a deliberate off-side as Leinster attempted to set up an attack.
Leinster took a full 10 minutes to make the sin-binning count as they forced a penalty against Benetton's seven-man line-out which Byrne slotted from 40 metres.
Replacement Peter Dooley's turnover on halfway led to Doris' 60th-minute try as a backpedalling Benetton conceded a five-metre scrum which was finished off by the number eight.
Replacement hooker Tracy finished off a well executed maul for Leinster's second try six minutes later and despite some late huff and puff, the home side remained unable to get on the scoreboard.
Benetton: Hayward; Esposito, Morisi, Zanon, Ioane; Keatley, Tebaldi; Zani, Faiva, Ferrari, Herbst, Snyman, Barbini, Steyn, Halafihi.
Replacements: Baravalle, Quaglio, Traore, Herbst, Pettinelli, Lazzaroni, Rizzi, Benvenuti.
Leinster: Larmour; D Kearney, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe; R Byrne, McGrath (capt); Healy, Cronin, Porter, Toner, Ryan, Deegan, Van der Flier, Doris.
Replacements: Tracy, Dooley, Furlong, Molony, Ruddock, Gibson-Park, Frawley, Kearney.