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

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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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No reasons recorded for low rates of successful speeding prosecutions

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Fewer than one in five people prosecuted in court for speeding offences are being convicted, new data shows.

With a national average of just over 16 per cent, data covering a three year period between 2018 and 2020 shows conviction rates ranging from 7 per cent recorded in Co Mayo to 24 per cent in Co Wexford.

In total, of almost 60,000 court prosecutions, fewer than 10,000 concluded with a ruling against the driver.

While separate statistics show that 8,325 cases (14 per cent of total prosecutions) were either dismissed or struck out by judges, no information is available as to why.

“The Courts Service system does not record the reason a case was struck out unless the Judge includes the reason in their order,” Minister for Justice Helen McEntee told Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy who had sought recent information around mobile phone use by drivers.

“As such, the Courts Service does not hold complete statistical information on the reasons for any case being struck out.”

Fundamental issues

However, Parc, the road safety advocacy group which has analysed the data, said such a gap in knowledge is among a number of fundamental issues it is to raise with senior garda management and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in a forthcoming meeting.

“If we don’t know the reason why [cases are being thrown out] then how are we ever going to fix it,” said chairwoman Susan Gray.

“Why are they failing in court, why so many, why are some areas like Mayo recording so few convictions, why is no one looking into this? In Mayo where the RSA is based, [there was a conviction rate of] 7 per cent over three years.”

The counties with the four major cities – Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick – accounted for 24,387 prosecutions, or 41 per cent of the total, and had a conviction rate of 19 per cent.

Outside of those areas, the counties with the highest number of speeding offences ending up in court were Kildare (6,948), Louth (2,600), and Wexford (2,055). Despite being an outlier in terms of prosecution rates, Kildare saw a conviction rate of just 10 per cent, the third lowest of 26 counties.

Conviction rates were the highest in Wexford (at 24 per cent) but three quarters of prosecutions still fell down for whatever reason. Following Wexford, drivers were most likely to be convicted in Dublin, Donegal, Longford and Westmeath (each 22 per cent), Louth (21 per cent) and Limerick (20 per cent) but no other county reached the 20 per cent mark.

Drivers were far less likely to see a conviction recorded against them in Mayo (7 per cent), Meath (8 per cent) and Kildare (10 per cent).

Catherine Murphy said the data raised a number of issues and exposed a traffic penalty system in need of greater consistency and cohesion.

“There can be a huge differential depending on what court you end up in and that shouldn’t be the case,” she said. “You would expect to see this [conviction rate] almost the reverse way around.”

She said there was no reason why data should not be recorded that shows why prosecutions do not proceed, or fail and that the overall road safety enforcement system required a less fragmented approach.

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BNP Paribas REIM acquires Barcelona office building (ES)

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BNP Paribas REIM acquires the iconic office building “Tanger 66” located on 66 Calle Tanger, in the 22@ District in Barcelona, from Blue Coast Capital. This asset is an emblematic building and an architectural landmark in Barcelona, with a total surface area of 7,211m². It is strategically located in the 22@ District, which is one of the most sought-after office area in Barcelona and a European hotspot. The District 22@ is a neighbourhood that used to house industrial sites before becoming one of the most important urban renewal projects in Europe and being rehabilitated to provide modern and elegant offices designed to meet the needs of businesses. The neighbourhood is now composed of more than 1,500 companies specialised in IT, energy, design, media or scientific research and is considered today as a space for constant innovation.

 

The “Tanger 66” building was re-developed from a textile factory into the first LEED Platinum office in Barcelona by Blue Coast Capital. It is composed of 4 floors and an 800m² terrace garden in the upper floor. It offers modern working spaces with training areas, collaborative spaces, computer laboratories, an auditorium and a cafeteria. The building benefits from an excellent connection to public transportation with metro, tram, bus and train stations only a few minutes away. It is fully let to Hewlett Packard.

 

Jean-Maxime Jouis, Global Head of Fund Management for BNP Paribas REIM commented: “This acquisition strengthens the BNP Paribas Diversipierre fund portfolio and fits perfectly with the fund’s strategy by adding a modern asset, fully let and located in a strategic location in Barcelona. In addition, the building is certified LEED Platinum, therefore it respects the funds’ commitments and more generally the environmental issues targeted by BNP Paribas REIM, whose strategy is to accelerate its funds’ goals in terms of ESG.”

 

Fraser Denton, Managing Director, European Real Estate for Blue Coast Capital said: “I am delighted for BNP Paribas REIM in finalising this transaction. Our re-development of T66 is an excellent example of Blue Coast Capital’s focus on creating exceptional real estate and is a leading example of real estate repurposing whilst achieving the highest level of LEED Certification.”

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House prices shot up £25k in a year in November 2021, ONS says

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Property prices surged 10 per cent annually in November 2021, according to the latest official figures.

This marked a small increase in price inflation compared to October, when prices grew by 9.8 per cent, the Office for National Statistics’ house price index shows.

The average house price was £271,000 in November 2021, which is £25,000 higher than the same time last year.

Climbing: The average UK house price increased by £25,000 in the year to November 2021

Climbing: The average UK house price increased by £25,000 in the year to November 2021

The figures confirm that house prices continued to climb, even after the stamp duty holiday finished at the end of September 2021.

The tax break, which lowered home buyers’ bills by up to £15,000, contributed to rapidly rising prices after it was introduced in July 2020.

This was despite the cost of a home increasing by £10,000 more than the maximum tax break.  

The number of housing transactions taking place also increased in November, growing by nearly a quarter compared October according to HMRC.

However, it was 16.4 per cent lower than the number of transactions in November 2020.

This suggests that the slight dip in October following the end of the stamp duty holiday may have been a temporary blip.

Rise: The rate of house price growth ticked up in November compared to October

Rise: The rate of house price growth ticked up in November compared to October

The average UK house price has increased dramatically since the pandemic started

The average UK house price has increased dramatically since the pandemic started

Phillip Stevens, director of Richmond estate agency Antony Roberts, said: ‘It was business as usual in November as property prices rose again following October’s dip, which came about following the end of the stamp duty holiday. 

‘There is plenty of evidence that buyer demand remains strong, especially for houses, and with relatively little stock available it is a house seller’s market.’

However, experts said that the spectre of rising inflation and increases in the cost of living could serve to dampen the housing market later in 2022.

On the market: This four-bed, three-bath detached home in Kirkby Lonsdale, Lancashire, is on the market with Hackney & Leigh with an asking price of £745,000

On the market: This four-bed, three-bath detached home in Kirkby Lonsdale, Lancashire, is on the market with Hackney & Leigh with an asking price of £745,000

In Trowbridge, Wiltshire, this five-bed is listed for £610,000 with agents Kingstons

In Trowbridge, Wiltshire, this five-bed is listed for £610,000 with agents Kingstons

Buyers in Largs, North Ayrshire, Scotland can snap up this four-bed, two bath detached home for £299,000. It is listed with estate agents at Corum

Buyers in Largs, North Ayrshire, Scotland can snap up this four-bed, two bath detached home for £299,000. It is listed with estate agents at Corum

This Victorian three-bed is marketed with Starkings & Watson in Norwich for £375,000

This Victorian three-bed is marketed with Starkings & Watson in Norwich for £375,000

This two-bed cottage near Hereford is being sold by Chancellors with a £210,000 guide

This two-bed cottage near Hereford is being sold by Chancellors with a £210,000 guide

This depends to some extent on whether there are further increases in the Bank of England’s base rate, which would likely push up the cost of a mortgage.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: ‘There is further speculation that the Bank of England will raise interest rates by 0.5 per cent at its February meeting in order to counter rising inflation, and it remains to be seen what impact this will have on buyer confidence.

‘Squeezed affordability would be an issue, preventing first-time buyers in particular from getting on the ladder.’

Looking at the different countries of the UK, house prices increased 9.8 per cent over the year in England to reach an average of £288,000.

In Wales they grew by 12.1% per cent to £200,000, in Scotland by 11.4 per cent to £183,000 and in Northern Ireland by 10.7 per cent to £159,000.

The South West was the region with the highest annual house price growth, with average prices increasing by 12.9 per cent in the year to November 2021. This was up from 10.8 per cent in October 2021.

The lowest annual house price growth was in London, where average prices increased by 5.1 per cent over the year to November 2021, down from 6.7% in October 2021.

Despite being the region with the lowest annual growth, London’s average house prices remain the most expensive of any region in the UK at an average of £520,000.

Locations: Regionally, the South West saw the highest house price increases at 12.9%

Locations: Regionally, the South West saw the highest house price increases at 12.9% 

The North East continued to have the lowest average house price at £149,000, but prices still increased 8.7 per cent in the year to November.

The fact that the number of homes on the market is much lower than the number of interested buyers is another factor continuing to drive up prices, along with Britons’ desire to change their living arrangements due to the pandemic.

Nick Leeming, chairman at estate agent Jackson-Stops said: ‘Last year proved to be an astonishing year for the property market, with prices and demand defying expectations set by the pandemic in January. 

‘Whilst today we see average house prices up slightly from those recorded in October, the figures still reflect lack of supply in the market and are therefore impacting levels of demand in the year to November 2021.

‘It is evident that this imbalance between stock and demand will continue to underpin housing activity in coming months. 

‘This is reflected by what we are seeing across our branches where the complex and ongoing changes to the nation’s working patterns and lifestyle aspirations have only heightened the importance Britons place on owning a home.’

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