Pro14: Leinster made to battle to secure 3-0 win over Zebre in a wet Parma
|Pro14: Zebre v Leinster|
|Zebre (0) 0|
|Leinster (3) 3|
|Pen: R Byrne|
Ross Byrne's 20th-minute penalty was the only score as defending Pro14 champions Leinster had to battle to hold off Zebre in a wet Parma.
After conceding 50 points in each of their three opening defeats, Zebre weren't expected to trouble Leinster but they produced a committed display.
Leinster bossed territory early on but Zebre wasted a chance as Johann Meyer failed to hold a Mattia Bellini pass.
Zebre produced intense second-half pressure but lacked a cutting edge.
The wet conditions made for a low-scoring contest as handling errors from both sides led to numerous attacks breaking down.
Zebre prove stubborn opponents
The Irish province secured bonus-point wins in their three opening games but it became clear from early on that Zebre were going to prove stubborn opposition and Leinster coach Leo Cullen will return home from Italy relieved his side managed to secure victory.
Leinster remained without their 14 members of Ireland's World Cup squad but still paraded a reasonably experienced squad which included Irish internationals Adam Byrne, Ross Byrne, James Tracy and Michael Bent plus battle-hardened imports Jamison Gibson-Park, Joe Tomane and Scott Fardy.
Zebre's contingent of Italian internationals included fly-half Carlo Canna who tried gamely to produce a creative spark but lacked support from his fellow backs.
The visitors produced a series of early attacks with Canna having to move smartly to prevent Cian Kelleher from touching down a Jamison Gibson-Park grubber kick and the scrum-half was ater held up by George Biagi after he had driven for the line.
However after Byrne kicked Leinster ahead, Zebre began to show attacking intent of their own as Meyer knocked on when seemingly well placed to score after Bellini's break.
After the break, Zebre began to dominate territory with wing Edoardo Padovani failing to hold a Canna crosskick when a try seemed on.
With hooker Marco Manfredi and Giovanni Licata particularly prominent, Zebre's breakdown work caused Leinster serious problems but the visitors' defence held firm in the closing stages as the home side failed to score despite producing a series of attacks.
Zebre: Biondelli; Padovani, Bisegni, Lucchin, Bellini; Canna, Renton; Fischetti, Manfredi, Zilocchi, Kearney, Biagi, Licata, Meyer, Sisi.
Replacements: Fabiana for Manfredi 65 mins, Rimpelli for Fischetti 52, Tarus for Zilocchi 62, Krumov for Kearney 69, Giammarioli for Sisi 50, Violi for Renton 61, Boni for Biondelli 52, Elliott for Bisegni 50,
Leinster: Keenan; A Byrne, O'Loughlin, Tomane, C Kelleher; R Byrne, Gibson-Park; Dooley, Tracy, Bent, Molony, S Fardy (capt); J Murphy, S Penny, M Deegan.
Replacements: B Byrne for Tracy 48, Milne for Dooley 48, V Abdaladze for Bent 48, Baird for Murphy 61, Doris for Deegan 50, O'Sullivan for Gibson-Park 63, H Byrne, O'Brien for Tomane 63.