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Leinster find a performance right up with their best to see off champions Exeter



Exeter Chiefs 22 Leinster 34

Leinster will be in the open draw for the semi-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup, where they will be the only non-French side, and deservedly so too.

Even by the standards of the four-time winners, this was one of Leinster’s finest hours in this competition, beating the reigning European and English champions in their own lair and, in the process, ending English interest in the competition.

What’s more, they did it from 14-0 down, ultimately having the stamina and endurance to outlast fellow thoroughbreds on English soil on Grand National Day.

By the end, their supremacy was almost complete, as they initially turned the tide at scrum and lineout time and at the breakdown, as they also had the bigger impact from the bench, notably Andrew Porter and Ryan Baird.

To begin with, Leinster’s defence was ominously unsure, passive and disjointed. But after suffering a double whammy which might have floored lesser teams, and then seeing a first siege on the Exeter line repelled, they stayed calm and composed, working their way into the game.

Johnny Sexton had been the orchestrator in chief, whereupon losing him after a failed HIA might have been another hammer blow. But Ross Byrne, who has only ever once played on a losing side in the Champions Cup, slotted in seamlessly and with immediate effect, while landing six from six for a 17-point haul.

The tide had begun to turn on the breakdown, where the immense Rónan Kelleher, Jack Conan and Josh van der Flier all won important steals.

That trio, along with Rhys Ruddock, were outstanding, with Van der Flier’s timing onto the ball again superb as he carried above his weight. Robbie Henshaw was brilliant on both sides of the ball, so earning the star of the match award from Sam Warburton, who by rights should have given it to his fellow number seven.

Leinster were sleepy out of the blocks and paid a heavy price, finding themselves 14-0 down in no time. First Devin Toner afforded Exeter safe exit when offside at the fringes before Exeter opted for a scrum when Leinster closed the gap.

Despite having no angle off the scrum, Sam Simmonds hared off infield and found a slightly passive defence which also got its spacings and numbers wrong. Rory O’Loughlin was left with a two-on-one in midfield, and Henry Slade released Tom O’Flaherty, who then spun out of a poor tackle by Hugo Keenan and Sexton to score a soft try with barely two minutes gone.

Leinster’s Josh Van der Flier comes up against Tomas Francis of Exeter Chiefs during the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at Sandy Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Leinster’s Josh Van der Flier comes up against Tomas Francis of Exeter Chiefs during the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at Sandy Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

When the Chiefs again stretched Leinster to the right and came back left, Slade accelerated through Tadhg Furlong and O’Loughlin and fed O’Flaherty, who stepped out of Jordan Larmour’s despairing tackle.

Although Sexton began pulling the strings after Toner claimed an overthrow and James Lowe was released for a trademark gallop along the left touchline and offload inside. But after Keenan was held up over the line, Jonny Gray’s arm prevented a clear grounding by Scott Fardy before Jonny Hill latched over the ball and couldn’t be shifted after a second tap penalty close to the line.

Finally Leinster began motoring when Exeter pushed early in a scrum and Luke McGrath tapped to Conan on the charge. Sexton swept left in identifying space and fed Keenan, who did brilliantly to offload in a double tackle to put Lowe away.

Sexton, who landed a good conversion, was mixing his game up nicely but having already received treatment, was forced to leave the action.

It looked like a hammer blow, but after Henshaw won a penalty in the jackal, Leinster mauled strongly and Henshaw pulled the ball back for Byrne to pass in front of Keenan and he carried diagonally and timed his pass for Larmour to finish smartly by the touchflag.

Byrne even managed the touchline conversion with his second touch, and after Kelleher won his second penalty in the jackal, Byrne landed the penalty to push Leinster in front.

Luke Cowan-Dickie cancelled out a penalty in the jackal by Van der Flier when Conan released Kelleher on the blindside of a clever lineout move but was then pinged after another of many good carries by Van der Flier.

Exeter’s defence was ferocious but Hill’s swinging arm followed through on to Byrne’s face and the Exeter lock was fortunate to escape with merely a penalty. In terms of height, it wasn’t much different from the Bundee Aki hit against England which earned him a red card and four-game ban.

Mathieu Raynal reasoned that the initial hit was on the shoulder, and Byrne dipped, but not even a yellow? Ridiculous.

In any event, Byrne dusted himself off and landed the penalty with the last act of an eventful half which flew by. Leinster had turned a 14-0 deficit into a 20-14 interval lead.

Leinster’s James Lowe scores a try during the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Leinster’s James Lowe scores a try during the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

But they again got their spacings in defence as O’Flaherty burst on to a pass from Sam Simmonds through inviting gap between Cian Healy and Fardy. When Ruddock was pinged at the breakdown, Exeter turned down a certain three-pointer for a lineout and, so tightly set-up you could have thrown a rug over them, powered over for Dave Ewers to score.

Joe Simmonds missed the touchline conversion but after O’Flaherty skipped through the tackles of Healy and Larmour, the outhalf briefly nudged Exeter ahead before Byrne did likewise after Ewels tackled off the ball.

That followed a nice trick play, and Leinster also surprised the home side when moving the restart wide inside their own 22 before O’Loughlin broke free from Byrne’s inside pass.

Although Lowe was tackled into touch from one strike play well orchestrated by Byrne as he pulled the ball back for Henshaw, on his introduction Baird stole the ensuing lineout. Leinster went wide right with an advantage play, and Larmour pirouetted in a strong tackle by Joe Simmonds to touch down with an inch or two to spare for an even better finish than his first.

The game then pivoted, not unexpectedly, on a couple of moments in the middle of the pitch midway through the half. First a good Leinster defensive set culminated in a forward pass by Joe Simmonds, whereupon Leinster won a scrum penalty against Alec Hepburn for hinging and went up the line.

Jannes Kirsten then re-enacted Ewers’s high shot on Byrne with a swinging arm and again Raynal deduced that it was only worthy of a yellow card even though Kirsten went even higher, without dipping.

Two wrongs most definitely didn’t make a right but Byrne again dusted himself down to make it a two-score game with the penalty.

Ewers beat Henshaw’s tackle for another line break but for once Exeter then didn’t convert from within five metres. In fact it happened twice after turning down another sure three points when Sam Simmonds picked and jammed into his own player, ironically Kirsten, given he should have been off the pitch,.

Good lineout work by the newly introduced Ross Molony, another strong defensive set epitomised by Van der Flier’s thunderous tackling and Porter’s sharpness and strength over the ball enabled Leinster to work their way downfield.

There, Porter won Leinster’s third scrum penalty, once more against Hepburn and Byrne unerringly nailed the penalty once more.

To complete the complete turnaround, it seemed Leinster’s defence had earned the coup de grace for a long-range try by O’Loughlin. Instead, Exeter went to the corner and Baird executed another, final lineout steal.

Game, set and match.

SCORING SEQUENCE – 3 mins: O’Flaherty try, J Simmonds con 7-0; 8: O’Flaherty try, J Simmonds con 14-0; 18: Lowe try, Sexton con 14-7; 29: Larmour try, Byrne con 14-14; 33: Byrne pen 14-17; 40 +1: Byrne pen 14-20; 43: Ewers try 19-20; 48: Simmonds pen 22-20; 51: Byrne pen 22-23; 57: Larmour try 22-28; 66: Byrne pen 22-31; 79: Byrne pen 22-34.

EXETER CHIEFS: Stuart Hogg; Olly Woodburn, Henry Slade, Ollie Devoto, Tom O’Flaherty; Joe Simmonds (capt), Jack Maunder; Ben Moon, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tomas Francis; Jonny Gray, Jonny Hill; Dave Ewers, Jacques Vermeulen, Sam Simmonds.

Replacements: Alec Hepburn for Moon, Harry Williams for Francis (both 51 mins), Jannes Kirsten for Vermeulen (52), Sam Skinner for Gray, Stu Townsend for Maunder (both 58), Ian Whitten for Woodburn (61), Jack Yeandle for Cowan-Dickie (64). Not used: Harvey Skinner.

LEINSTER: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Rory O’Loughlin, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong; Devin Toner, Scott Fardy; Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Ross Byrne for Sexton (28 mins), Ed Byrne for Healy, Ryan Baird for Fardy (both 51), Andrew Porter for Furlong (56), James Tracy for Kelleher, Ross Molony for Toner (both 71), Dave Kearney for Lowe (79). Not used: Hugh O’Sullivan.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France).

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Real Estate

Madison International Realty invests in London Salesforce Tower (GB)



Madison International Realty has acquired a minority stake in the Salesforce Tower, London EC2, through a Jersey Property Unit Trust (JPUT), joining other investors including Heron International.


The 230-metre tower, completed in 2011 at 110 Bishopsgate, is an island site in the City of London and provides 441,000ft² of office space over 37 floors. The property is over 93% let to a range of tenants, the largest of which is Salesforce. The Salesforce Tower also has an outstanding food and beverage offering with Duck and Waffle and Sushi Samba at the very top and the Drift on the ground floor. The building has a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating for design.


The asset’s central location in the core of the City of London means it benefits from excellent transport connectivity, with Liverpool Street and Bank within a short walking distance. Similarly, there are a large number of new world-class food, drink and entertainment options nearby including the new Pan Pacific hotel adjacent at Heron Plaza and Eataly in Broadgate. In January 2021, an ING-led syndicate of lenders completed a €465.2m (£400m), five-year refinancing of the Tower.


Alex Lukesch, Managing Director at Madison International Realty commented on the investment: “This acquisition has allowed us to secure a stake in a prominent London office building, which we believe delivers space that meets the demands of modern occupiers looking for world-class offices in one of the world’s leading financial centres. The investment reflects our conviction in the ongoing resilience of the office sector and the role we believe it will play post-pandemic. We have observed that demand for quality, well-located space remains robust, while companies are increasingly looking for properties that also have strong ESG credentials to help meet their own sustainability targets. In Heron, we believe we have an experienced and highly regarded partner and we look forward to working with them on this venture.”

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Britain’s blossoming love for Japanese design in the home



The design has a red lid and a narrow neck which widens to form a base of sturdy hips. When poured, the contents flow in a singular, uninterrupted stream.

The Kikkoman bottle hasn’t changed since it was designed in 1961 by Kenji Ekuan for the world’s largest soy sauce producer.

Simplicity has made it ubiquitous. And crucially, it works — think of wrestling with glass Heinz ketchup bottles or constantly wiping lids on plastic iterations. Likely, Kikkoman’s bottle is the reason we’re so familiar with soy sauce.

Serene: A contemporary Japanese-style sitting room. The country's influence can be seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes

Serene: A contemporary Japanese-style sitting room. The country’s influence can be seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes

In the introduction to her book Japanese Design Since 1945 (£35, Thames & Hudson), Naomi Pollock writes: ‘In Japan, good design is everywhere. But most of all, it’s in the home.’

The trend for Japanese-inspired, UK-based brands, such as Wagamama, Superdry and Yo! Sushi, is well worn, but the country’s influence is likely seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes.

Inspired idea 

The Japanese approach to design is summed up well by a single product – Muji’s right angle sock (from £3.50, 

As the foot is perpendicular to the leg, the sock should follow the shape of the body: design centres on the user rather than the designer.

The word ‘Muji’ translates as ‘without brand’ and the company invites (often renowned) designers to create reasonably priced products anonymously. 

Design guru Naoto Fukasawa is an adviser to Muji, and his wall-mounted CD player for the company (£149) is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Naoto Fukasawa's butterfly-inspired Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair (£2,869,

Naoto Fukasawa’s butterfly-inspired Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair (£2,869,

In the UK, Chaplins stocks a large selection of products from Japan, including some from the designer.

‘The idea is to create designs that appear to have been sculpted by the elements,’ says Ludovic Aublanc, creative director at Chaplins. ‘It’s the kind of minimalism that brims with emotion, that makes you grateful and happy to come home.’

The company stocks Fukasawa’s butterfly-inspired Papilio range – chairs and sofas sporting headset ‘wings’ to protect the user’s head (Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair, £2,869,

Simple seating

Japanese designers have described the chair as the centre of design and an extension of the human form. It follows that these things should be easy on both the body and the eye.

Habitat’s Mori charcoal two-seater sofa (£716, certainly fits the bill. It is compact, unfussy and elegant with its plush curved armrests and contrasting thin, wooden legs.

Simple unfinished woodwork is a key part of design in Japan, like the solid oak dining chairs from Oak Furnitureland (£140, which would pair well with the Japanese oak Castor Table by Karimoku New Standard (£1,169,

Clutter free

Last year, decluttering guru Marie Kondo took the world by storm with her hit Netflix show. The programme has been talked of plenty, but we’re perhaps unaware of how key these principles are to Japanese design.

A large part of the focus on user-friendly products comes down to space. As ever, it’s important for Muji, with its storage bed (from £299) which has spacious drawers to banish clutter. Loaf has the Woody storage bed (from £995,

Simple boxy shelving units such as the Ikea Kallax range (from £15, are practical, but can also be used for displaying plants, books and records.

Or, for a modern twist, try the John Lewis Dice shelving unit bookcase (£450, The company also stocks Japanese brand Like-it’s clear storage products (from £8).

Crockery that rocks 

Japanese pottery has long been a feature of our homes, and a collection by John Lewis is a nod to this. Inspired by woodblock prints, the range includes glassware, plates, mugs and even Christmas decorations. 

It’s all delicate, bright patterns and the infuser mugs by Tokyo Design Studio (from £25) are a highlight.

But elegant motifs are only part of the story. The earthy charcoals, whites and beiges of Hasami Porcelain ( are a calming, elegant addition to any kitchen.

Hasami teapots start from £65 and mugs from £22 ( – also pick up a copy of Okakura Kakuzo’s The Book Of Tea, written in 1906, an insight into the Japanese ritual of tea-making. Elsewhere, an Oriental Hobnail tea set costs from £22.98 (

For eating, Denby Pottery has Japanese-inspired bowls from £58 for four in grey and white (

Finally, being able to serve Japan’s other favourite drink – the highball – is a must. Try LSA’s Mia Highball glasses (£27 for four, or, for something cheaper, a set of six Duralex Prisme highballs is £11.99 at

Then grab a bottle of Akashi whisky (£28.50,, add ice, stir clockwise 13 times, add soda water, stir again and appreciate another example of elegance and simplicity in Japanese design.

What your home really needs is… a Christmas throw

At this time of year, people fall into two groups: those who believe more is more, with bright lights and decorations aplenty; and others who keep things simple, with a few holly sprigs and a carefully adorned tree.

Yuletide luxury: You could use this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw, £99.50, all year round

Yuletide luxury: You could use this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw, £99.50, all year round

But whether you’re a maximalist or a minimalist, your home will need a Christmas throw because someone in your festive bubble is bound to complain about being cold.

If glitter is your thing, you’ll like the fleece star throw from Marks & Spencer (£25, marksand 

Or snuggle up under Dunelm’s red cable-knit design with a fleecey inside (£60,

For something more fun, Redbubble has one that reads: ‘This is my Hallmark Christmas movie watching blanket’ (£34.73,

Going low-key? How about a white and grey reindeer pattern with red pompoms (£40, barkerand 

Or this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw , £99.50, notonthe, which you could use all year round.

Anne Ashworth 

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Extending grace period on checks in North would be ‘problematic’ – Taoiseach



Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said it will be “very problematic” if the UK again extends unilaterally the grace period for Northern Ireland Protocol checks.

But speaking on the Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme on Sky News, Mr Martin also insisted a breakthrough between the EU and UK was still possible “if there’s a will there on both sides”.

His comments came after Boris Johnson escalated his dispute with the European Union by warning he will do whatever it takes to keep goods flowing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Following talks with the EU’s key figures on Saturday, the British prime minister said he would not hesitate to take unilateral action to protect the position of Northern Ireland in the increasingly bitter row over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The row – dubbed the “sausage war” – could mean chilled meats will not be shipped across the Irish Sea because of EU rules after the end of the month.

The UK is considering extending the current grace period without the consent of Brussels to ensure that sausages and mince can continue to reach Northern Ireland’s shops.

But Mr Martin told Sky News that the “channels do exist to get this resolved”.

He added: “In particular, the Sefcovic/Frost process should be fully explored and optimised to get an agreement and I think the prospects, in my view, if there’s a will there on both sides, and there is a will there from the European Union side I know that, I detect from the British prime minister Boris Johnson that the British government is anxious to get a resolution of this, so I think we should work at it.”

Mr Martin said he believed an SPS agreement (on plant and animal health measures) could remove 80 per cent of protocol checks.

When asked about the possibility of the UK unilaterally extending the grace period for checks, Mr Martin said: “I think it will be very problematic because it’s not about sausages per se, it really is about the fact that an agreement had been entered into, not too long ago, signed off by the British government with the European Union.

“If there’s consistent, unilateral deviation from that agreement, that clearly undermines the broader relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which is in nobody’s interest and therefore that’s why the UK with the EU have to work very hard now in the coming weeks.

“I know the European Union are anxious to resolve this and want to resolve it but they need to see a similar reciprocity from the UK side.”

When asked if the protocol is undermining Northern Ireland’s place within the UK, Mr Martin said: “We’ve never seen the Protocol as a constitutional issue, it doesn’t in any way interfere with the constitutional status of Northern Ireland as defined and articulated in the Good Friday [Belfast] Agreement.

“We’re very clear from the Irish Government perspective on that, but we do believe in seamless trade on the island of Ireland, it makes sense. We believe in seamless trade insofar as we possibly can between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.”

‘A bit of respect’

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab accused EU leaders of trying to undermine the status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

After talks at the G7 summit in Cornwall between Boris Johnson and key EU figures failed to achieve a breakthrough in the dispute over the implementation of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in Northern Ireland, Mr Raab said the EU was showing a lack of respect.

“What we cannot have is the continuing disruption of trade and effectively try to change the status of Northern Ireland, contrary to the consent and wishes of the people, which is not just contrary to the Northern Ireland Protocol but also to the Belfast Agreement,” he told Mr Phillips on Sky News.

“We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK. It is not only offensive, it has real-world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation.

“Could you imagine if we talked about Catalonia, the Flemish part of Belgium, one of the lander in Germany, northern Italy, Corsica in France as different countries. We need a bit of respect here.– PA

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