Leinster secured their Guinness Pro14 play-off place with a 41-6 win over Zebre at the RDS.

The five-point haul means that Leo Cullen’s men cannot finish lower than third place and with two games left to play – against Benetton and Connacht – are still favourites to top Conference B and earn a home semi-final.

Leinster took the lead in the 13th minute with James Lowe going over for his eighth try for the club.

Heavy rain made life difficult for both sides in the first half and Leinster, who started with just five of the side that beat Saracens last weekend, were able to restrict the Italians to a 33rd-minute penalty from Carlo Canna.

However, that was immediately cancelled out when Rory O’Loughlin crossed the line to hand the hosts a 12-3 lead at the break.

An opportunistic effort from Max Deegan from the restart extended the lead.

The number 8 spotted that the ball had emerged from a ruck, came around and plucked it – much to the surprise of scrum-half Marcello Violi – before sprinting home from 22 yards out.

"I just saw the ball was there," man of the match Deegan told TG4. "It was one of those opportunities, lucky the ref didn't pull me back."

Deegan’s second, on the hour mark, secured the bonus point for the Champions Cup semi-finalists.

Lowe also secured his double with 10 minutes to play before replacement front-rowers Vakh Abdaladze  and Bryan Byrne added to the scoresheet.

"I don't think it was one of our best performances," added Deegan.

"Zebre are a good team. You can see the two Italian teams building every year and every week. They are always going to come out strong and physical and you have to match that. 

"We just had to match them physically and we kind of lacked that in the first half. 

"We knew we'd have them at the end of the game if we kept it up."

Leinster's Champions Cup semi-final opponents Scarlets, second in the table, are currently in against Conference A leaders Glasgow in Llanelli (4.15)