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Relentless Leinster smother Munster challenge to retain Pro14 title

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Leinster 16 Munster 6

Leinster’s maintained their Indian sign over their auld rivals to claim a fourth Pro14 in a row and a sixth victory over Munster in succession, the longest in the fixture’s history.

When you know how to win, you know how to win, and in stark contrast to Munster, Leinster’s winning know-how in semi-finals and finals has become a habit.

In truth, although Leinster only put themselves two scores clear entering the last 10 minutes, this never felt in any great doubt. Certainly Leinster were the dominant from the off to the finish in what will be as sobering a setback for Munster as any they’ve suffered in the last trophyless 10 years.

It was no classic and defences were on top. But all that said and done, Leinster had better launch plays, with Luke McGrath and Ross Byrne utilising wraparounds or hitting Robbie Henshaw. They also carried harder into and over the gainline, and hence were much more effective at building through the phases.

Luke McGrath consoles Tadhg Beirne after Leinster’s Pro14 final win over Munster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Luke McGrath consoles Tadhg Beirne after Leinster’s Pro14 final win over Munster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Very uncharacteristically though, save for a couple of penalties, they failed to convert about half a dozen visits deep inside the Munster 22 into tries and so trooped off six-all at the break despite dominating the first half-hour.

However, they reverted to a dog-eared script to score the game’s only try through their forwards’ relentless close-in charges soon after the resumption, and such was their vastly superior accuracy in much of what they did that that was pretty much it.

Rónan Kelleher and Josh van der Flier began like express trains, Robbie Henshaw maintained his rich vein of form, while the influence of Rhys Ruddock and Jack Conan grew and grew.

The one blemish, particularly with Toulon due here in six days, was that Johnny Sexton departed for an HIA soon after his arrival and did not return,

Leinster targeted Joey Carbery in defence and negated the poaching threat of CJ Stander, Tadhg Beirne and Peter O’Mahony with the sharpness of their clear-outs and the only Munstermen to make any headway into the thick blue line were Gavin Coombes and Dave Kilcoyne.

Working off static ball, not for the first time, Munster’s attack was made to look utterly impotent.

Literally from the off Munster put themselves on the back foot when Jean Kleyn failed to gather Ross Byrne’s kick-off and Murray was tackled into touch. Leinster launched Henshaw off the lineout and for Munster to only concede a three-pointer by Byrne from the ensuing attack was something of a result.

They were even more relieved when Rory O’Loughlin’s high pass went through Jordan Larmour’s hands after Stander and Kleyn’s mix up gave Leinster a scrum inside halfway, Kelleher then piercing the defensive line from Andrew Porter’s tip-on pass.

Leinster opted for the corner when John Ryan didn’t roll away before taking another three when Niall Scannell went off his feet. They were full value for it too.

Jack Conan emerges after scoring the only try of the match against Munster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Jack Conan emerges after scoring the only try of the match against Munster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Munster needed a lift, and Kleyn provided it with a big hit on Healy, who was very swiftly pinged for not releasing by Mike Adamson, enabling Carbery to open Munster’s account.

That was Munster’s cue to put together some phases off lineouts and Keith Earls was seeing plenty of ball in midfield traffic. But Leinster’s defence, with Josh van der Flier given licence to apply pressure by shooting off the line, was comfy. Chris Farrell overfloated a pass to Andrew Conway and Dave Kearney engineered another turnover after Mike Haley’s carry.

Leinster carried more threat and worked an apparent overlap but Byrne didn’t release soon enough and O’Loughlin’s long pass again eluded Larmour.

But a needless quick throw by Earls was fumbled by Haley, affording Leinster an attacking scrum. Henshaw powered through Carbery’s tackle and only Coombes’s shin prevented Fardy from grounding the ball in the opinion of Adamson, if not the Leinster players.

Unusually, Leinster gave Munster another lifeline when Van der Flier overran the ball to concede a penalty for crossing.

Van der Flier soon atoned with a typical square carry and offload to meet Hugo Keenan’s superb line, and he found Henshaw in support. Munster were indebted to Farrell’s tackle and then, on the back foot from the recycle in their own 22 for about the sixth time in the half, to Earls intercepting Van der Flier’s pass.

Murray even had the distance with a penalty from inside halfway but was wide, while Coombes – the only uncapped player on the pitch at kick-off – galvanised his team with a huge, leg-pumping gallop.

Carbery’s 40-metre penalty smacked off the upright but after earning another shot at goal with a carry when high tackled by Conan, the Munster outhalf drew the sides level with the last kick of the half.

On the resumption, Leinster reverted to their tried and tested formula. First they repelled the Munster carriers before Kleyn took his eye off Murray’s pass and knocked on. Andrew Porter got the nudge on James Cronin at the ensuing scrum, when Munster were pinged for wheeling and Leinster went up the line.

After launching Henshaw up the middle, the Leinster pack kept the ball to themselves with a procession of pick-and-jams in time-honoured fashion. Conan was held up a second time, but after driving off the ensuing scrum himself, the number eight eventually burrowed over and Byrne converted.

Carbery’s restart going out on the full didn’t help Munster’s cause and, after the loss of an injured Peter O’Mahony and a raft of frontrow replacements, Byrne missed the chance to put Leinster 10 points ahead not long after receiving treatment for a leg or knee injury, and soon after was replaced by Sexton.

Even when Munster began to finally generate some ferocity at the breakdown and with it some momentum, Ryan Baird – barely on for Fardy – had the temerity to rip the ball from Stander for the increasingly influential Ruddock to lead the counter charge.

Keith Earls is shackled during Munster’s Pro14 final defeat to Leinster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Keith Earls is shackled during Munster’s Pro14 final defeat to Leinster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Kleyn did rip the ball from Ruddock and Munster knocked again, but Murray’s pass bounced off Kleyn’s face.

Byrne, still limping slightly, returned for a bloodied Sexton, and McGrath found a huge touch before Conan punished a miscued boxkick by Murray with a mighty charge. A penalty for offside followed and Byrne kicked Leinster two scores ahead.

The Leinster entourage, loud from the off, cheered heartily when Earls fumbled a long punt by McGrath. Munster looked a beaten docket, a thumping hit by Henshaw on Farrell and a kick out on the full by Craig Casey confirming as much.

Leinster forced Munster to play catch-up, before O’Loughlin claimed a chip from JJ Hanrahan and soon after Byrne kicked the ball dead with the clock in the red.

Michael Bent and Devin Toner lifted the trophy as Leinster became champions for an eighth time. They pass this honour around like confetti.

Scoring sequence: 4 mins Byrne pen 3-0; 12 mins Byrne pen 6-0; 14 mins Carbery pen 6-3; 40 (+ 1 min) Carbery pen 6-6; (half-time 6-6); 48 mins Conan try, Byrne con 13-6; 69 mins Byrne pen 16-6.

Leinster: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Rory O’Loughlin, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Andrew Porter; Devin Toner, Scott Fardy; Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan. Replacements: Ed Byrne for Healy, Tadhg Furlong for Porter (both 53 mins), Ryan Baird for Fardy, Johnny Sexton for Byrne (both 59 mins), Byrne for (62 mins), James Tracy for Kelleher (70 mins), Ross Molony for Ruddock (74 mins), Jamison Gibson-Park for McGrath (76 mins). Not used – James Lowe.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Gavin Coombes, Peter O’Mahony (capt), CJ Stander. Replacements: Jack O’Donoghue for O’Mahony (49 mins), Dave Kilcoyne for Cronin, Stephen Archer for Ryan (both 52 mins), Kevin O’Byrne for N Scannell (53 mins), Billy Holland for Kleyn, Craig Casey for Murray, JJ Hanrahan for Carbery (all 70 mins), Rory Scannell for de Allende (74 mins).

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU).

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Former US presidential candidate Bob Dole dies aged 98

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Bob Dole, the long-time Kansas senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, has died from lung cancer. In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Dole’s wife, said: “It is with heavy hearts we announced that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died earlier this morning in his sleep. At his death at age 98 he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In late February, Dole announced that he had advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment. Visiting him, President Joe Biden called Dole his “close friend”.

On Sunday the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like Biden a Democrat, ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, Dole served in the US infantry in the second world war, suffering serious wounds in Italy and winning a medal for bravery.

His wounds cost him use of his right arm but he entered state politics and soon became a longtime Republican power-broker, representing Kansas in the US House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate until 1996. He had spells as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as Senate minority and majority leader.

In 1976 he was the Republican nominee for vice-president to Gerald Ford, in an election the sitting president lost to Jimmy Carter. Two decades later, aged 73, Dole won the nod to take on Bill Clinton.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy, the Democrat won a second term with ease, by 379 – 159 in the electoral college and by nine points in the popular vote, the third-party candidate Ross Perot costing Dole support on the right.

Dole received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honours.

In the Trump years and after, Dole came widely to be seen as a figure from another time in Republican politics.

On Sunday, the political consultant Tara Setmeyer, a member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted: “I cast my first ever vote for president for Bob Dole in 1996. A war hero with a sharp sense of humor ? another piece of a once respectable GOP gone.”

However, Dole remained a loyal Republican soldier, telling USA Today this summer that though Donald Trump “lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, and though he himself was “sort of Trumped out”, he still considered himself “a Trumper”.

Dole called Biden “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”, though he said he leaned too far left.

He also said: “I do believe [America has]lost something. I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”

On Sunday, Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family of Senator Bob Dole. We honor his service and dedication to the nation. May he Rest In Peace.”

– Guardian

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Bournemouth is the most popular coastal town for buyers, says Rightmove

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The most popular seaside location for house hunters this year has been Bournemouth, new research has revealed.   

Rightmove identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain, based on the highest number of buyer enquiries via its website.

The Dorset resort is the most popular, followed by Southampton, Hampshire and Brighton, East Sussex, with the South coast dominating the list. 

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

The top ten list also includes Blackpool, Lancashire – a coastal resort known for its amusement arcades and donkey rides – where prices have increased 8 per cent in the past year to £137,301.

It compares to the average house price in the top 10 locations, which rose 6 per cent this year. 

It is just ahead of the national average rise of 5 per cent, from £318,188, to £333,037. These figures are based on an average between January and November 2020 compared to January-November 2021. 

At the same time, Rightmove provided a list of coastal locations that have seen the biggest increases in house prices this year.

Padstow in Cornwall topped that list of coastal hotspots, with prices rising 20 per cent this year, from from £548,382, to £658,588.

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

AVERAGE ASKING PRICES IN COASTAL HOTSPOTS 2021
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average asking price 2020 Average asking price increase 2021 vs 2020
1 Padstow, Cornwall £658,588 £548,382 20%
2 Whitby, North Yorkshire £254,218 £217,620 17%
3 St. Ives, Cornwall £473,161 £411,484 15%
4 Porthcawl, South Glamorgan, Bridgend (County of) £307,051 £270,505 14%
5 Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire £173,612 £153,140 13%
6 Newquay, Cornwall £317,846 £281,204 13%
7 Filey, North Yorkshire £214,617 £189,914 13%
8 Pwllheli, Gwynedd £222,607 £197,213 13%
9 Brixham, Devon £299,127 £266,604 12%
10 Preston, Paignton, Devon £303,684 £272,029 12%
Source: Rightmove       

It was followed by Whitby, in North Yorkshire, which came second, with prices rising 17 per cent from £217,620, to £254,218. 

Cornwall’s St. Ives is in third place, with average values rising 15 per cent from £411,484 to £473,161.

A house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more.

Robin Gould – Prime Purchase 

Robin Gould, director of buying agency Prime Purchase, says: ‘Many people love the idea of living beside the sea, even more so since the pandemic struck and we have all been spending more time outside. 

‘However, a house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more. 

‘A frontline house is arguably worth 30 per cent more than one immediately behind it.

‘I recently bought a “frontline” house near Polzeath in north Cornwall for a client, which was right on the cliff top with stunning coastal and sea views.  

‘Although the house itself was very “vanilla”, most people would have forgiven it anything to have that ever-changing, interesting view.’

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

QUICKEST COASTAL MARKETS TO FIND A BUYER
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average time to find a buyer 2021 (days) Change in time to find a buyer 2021 vs 2020 (days)
1 Saltcoats, Ayrshire £111,419 19 -35
2 Troon, Ayrshire £178,666 22 -8
3 Westward Ho, Bideford, Devon £297,138 24 -46
4 Ayr, Ayrshire £161,301 25 -15
5 Kessingland, Lowestoft, Suffolk £219,538 25 -22
6 Littlehampton, West Sussex £364,180 26 -28
7 Goring-By-Sea, Worthing, West Sussex £396,078 26 -23
8 Marske-By-The-Sea, Redcar, Cleveland £181,882 28 -15
9 Canvey Island, Essex £308,261 28 -23
10 Weymouth, Dorset £283,585 29 -25
Source: Rightmove       

The red hot property market this year has translated into the time it takes to find a buyer hitting a record low number of days.

The average time find a buyer across the whole of 2021 is 44 days, 15 days quicker than the average in 2020.

Saltcoats in Ayrshire is this year’s quickest coastal location to find a buyer, at 19 days on average.

Troon in Ayrshire came second at 22 days, and Westward Ho, in Bideford, Devon was third at 24 days.

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

THE INCREASE IN COASTAL SEARCHES IN 2021
Rank Location Average asking price Increase in searches 2021 vs 2020
1 Morecambe, Lancashire £164,424 32%
2 Blackpool, Lancashire £137,301 21%
3 Great Yarmouth, Norfolk £194,066 15%
4 Swansea, Wales £180,603 15%
5 Saltburn-By-The-Sea, Cleveland £227,611 15%
6 Southampton, Hampshire £249,053 14%
7 Llandudno, Conwy (County of) £235,316 13%
8 Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, South West Wales £319,587 12%
9 Southport, Merseyside £215,838 12%
10 Scarborough, North Yorkshire £191,879 12%
Source: Rightmove     

Meanwhile, Morecambe, Lancashire saw the biggest jump in coastal buyer searches compared to last year, up 32 per cent, followed by Blackpool, up 21 per cent, and Great Yarmouth, up 15 per cent.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘After a year where coastal locations really captured the imagination of British buyers, it’s interesting to reflect on how the overall picture looks at the end of the year.

‘In terms of average asking price growth, homeowners in Cornwall and Devon are the real winners this year, with properties in some areas outpacing the national average, though this does mean that it is increasingly difficult for some locals to get onto the ladder.

‘The speed of this year’s market really is astounding, seen in the time to find a buyer in some areas, particularly in Scotland.

‘Overall, this has been the year that either through changed lifestyle priorities, or the ability to work remotely, living in coastal areas has become possible for more buyers, which is reflected in the data we’re seeing in this study.’

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UK to require all incoming international travellers to take Covid-19 test

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All international travellers arriving into the UK will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test – while Nigeria is being added to the British government’s travel red list, British health secretary Sajid Javid has said.

Mr Javid said the government had decided to move after receiving new data about the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, which emerged in southern Africa.

“Since we have learned of this new variant our strategy has been to buy time. We have always said we will act swiftly should new data require it,” he told broadcasters on Saturday.

“Over recent days we have learned of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria.

“There are 27 cases already in England and that’s growing. Nigeria now is second only to South Africa in terms of linked cases to Omicron.”

Mr Javid said that the number of cases of Omicron in Britain had now risen to about 160.

Under the new rules, from 4am on Monday only British and Irish nationals travelling from Nigeria will be allowed into the UK and they must isolate in a government-managed quarantine hotel on arrival.

And from 4am on Tuesday, anyone travelling to the UK from countries not on the red list will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test a maximum of 48 hours before leaving, regardless of their vaccination status. – PA/Reuters

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