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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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Patrizia invests in logistics property near Milan (IT)

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Patrizia AG has acquired a newly built cold storage logistics asset near Milan, Italy, from Savills Investment Management. The 31,000m² cold storage asset was completed in Q2 2021 and is fully let to Kuhne & Nagel, a leading pan-European 3rd party logistics company, and Movi.Log Srl, a frozen food distributor, with a WALT of 7.5 years. The property has been built to a high specification with sprinklers, elevations and ample refrigeration space that has a temperature range between 4°C and -28 °C. Sustainability was a key consideration during its development. The asset includes two photovoltaic plants for a total power capacity of 2.5MW and is targeting a BREEAM rating.

 

The property is located in Casorate Primo, a municipality in Lombardy between the cities of Milan and Pavia, a prime industrial and logistics location in northern Italy. It benefits from excellent transport connectivity via the nearby A7 motorway which connects Milan with Genoa and enables access to France and Switzerland.

 

Pierluigi Scialanga, Head of Transactions at Patrizia Italy, commented: “The property is well located and has excellent sustainability credentials, while lettings to tenants with strong covenants will deliver long term reliable returns. Our Italian AUM has grown significantly in recent years to now over €1bn with plans to grow further. Logistics is a strategic sector for Patrizia Italy. We have so far invested €400m in logistics and have a pipeline of a further €160m of logistics transactions which we are completing.”

 

Rob Brook, Head of Alternative Investments and Head of Logistics at Patrizia, added: “Cold chain is an exciting area of logistics for Patrizia to be involved in. Demand is predicted to grow steadily in the next few years, especially due to a growing need for reliable supply chains for biopharmaceuticals, vaccines and clinical trials. High demand across Europe combined with low vacancy rates makes cold chain logistics an ideal growth area for the future.”

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Crackdown on second home and holiday let tax dodgers

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The Government is cracking down on second home owners who claim their properties are holiday lets for tax purposes.

Communities secretary Michael Gove is set to close a tax loophole which has allowed second home owners to avoid thousands of pounds per year in taxes, without proving that the property was ever rented out. 

The new rules will target those who register their holiday lets as small businesses, meaning they are eligible for business rates instead of council tax.

But the majority pay no business rates at all under the system, because they have ‘rateable values’ of under £12,000 based on the property’s rents, size and usage. 

Crackdown: Those registering second homes as businesses could fall foul of new rules

Crackdown: Those registering second homes as businesses could fall foul of new rules

A second home can be registered as a small business if it will be available as a holiday let for 140 days or more in the coming year.  

However, there is currently no requirement to provide evidence that a property has actually been let out, leaving the system open to abuse. 

This has caused anger in areas that have lots of second homes, such as Devon, Cornwall and the Lake District, as some locals believe property owners are not paying their fair share towards council services.

According to Ray Boulger of mortgage broker John Charcol: ‘Some 97 per cent of the 65,000 holiday let properties in England have rateable values of under £12,000, which means they qualify for small business rates relief and pay no rates at all.’

The new rules aim to change this by ensuring that only those properties which are actually rented out for 70 days per year, and available to rent for 140 days, get the tax break. 

Kurt Jansen, director of the Tourism Alliance said: ‘It makes a very important distinction between commercial self-catering businesses that provide revenue and employment for local communities, and holiday homes which lie vacant for most of the year.’

This is Money explains how the new system will work, and how second home and holiday let owners can make sure they are following the rules. 

Locals in UK holiday spots have expressed anger at second home owners, who they say are not contributing their fair share to the community and services via council tax payments

Locals in UK holiday spots have expressed anger at second home owners, who they say are not contributing their fair share to the community and services via council tax payments

What do the new rules say? 

The rules are based on the amount of days a property is rented out in each tax year. 

To qualify for business rates instead of council tax, the new legislation will require second home owners to prove their property will be available for ‘commercial short term, self-catering rentals’ for at least 140 days in the coming year. 

They will also need to prove that, in the previous year, it was available for letting for 140 days and actually rented out for at least 70 days. 

This is designed to prevent second home owners from registering their properties as small businesses, and then not actually renting them out.  

‘We will not stand by and allow people in privileged positions to abuse the system by unfairly claiming tax relief and leaving local people counting the cost,’ said Gove when he announced the policy. 

‘The action we are taking will create a fairer system, ensuring that second homeowners are contributing their share to the local services they benefit from.’

Anger among locals has increased since the start of the pandemic, as wealthy people snapped up UK holiday lets when travelling abroad was not allowed. 

Exempt: As they are assessed differently to bricks and mortar properties, caravans being used as holiday lets will not come under the government's new second home tax rules

Exempt: As they are assessed differently to bricks and mortar properties, caravans being used as holiday lets will not come under the government’s new second home tax rules

What counts as a holiday let?  

The business rates rules for holiday lets only apply to buildings, or self-contained parts of buildings, that would otherwise be assessed for council tax. 

Caravans will not generally be subject to the rules, as they are usually assessed for business rates under a different system to bricks and mortar buildings. 

When it comes to counting the days that a property was rented out, the government says that only days where the property was occupied at the end of the day should be included.

So if a property was let out from Friday evening to Sunday morning, it would have been let for two days for the purposes of meeting the holiday lets criteria.

Is this definitely going ahead, and when will the rules come into force?

The government has concluded its consultation on the new policy, which started before the pandemic in 2018. It plans to implement the changes from 1 April 2023. 

However, the legislation needed to do so has not yet been passed in parliament.

While the government has made clear its intention to enshrine the new rules in law, they are not set in stone just yet. 

How much would I pay under each system?

Small businesses can find their rateable value on the Government website. 

Those with a rateable value of below £12,000 are not eligible for business rates, while those with a value of up to £15,000 pay special tapered rates. 

For those with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, they will need to multiply that value by 49.9p to find out their rateable value. They can then subtract any discounts that they may be entitled to, which the government details here

Those with a rateable value of more than £51,000 will follow the same calculation, but with a higher multiple of 51.2p.  

As for council tax, second homes are charged at the same rate as main residences. 

Individual councils may decide to give a discount for second homes, or on homes that have been empty for two years. Owners should contact their council to find out if this is available.

Under the new rules, the government has said there will be no rate or council tax discount for those with lots of properties.  

What if I have a new holiday let with no proof of lettings for last year?

Those acquiring a new holiday let and wanting to register for business rates will not be able to prove that their property was available to let for 140 days and actually let for 70 days in the past year, as required by the new rules. 

Until the owner can provide that proof, they will be subject to council tax – meaning most will need to pay that for at least the first year of their ownership. 

After that, they can ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for a business rates assessment. 

This is the government body that handles everything to do with business rates, and it will be responsible for policing the new rules once they come in to force. 

Don't lie low: Property owners who don't think their property meets the new letting rules, but who are paying business rates, are advised to inform the VOA as soon as possible

Don’t lie low: Property owners who don’t think their property meets the new letting rules, but who are paying business rates, are advised to inform the VOA as soon as possible

I don’t think my property will meet the criteria for last year. What should I do?

Some holiday let or second home owners will not be able to prove that their property was available to let for 140 days and actually let for 70 days in the past year. 

The government says people in this position ‘should notify the VOA as soon as possible, so that their property can be assessed as domestic and revert accordingly to (or be given) a council tax valuation.’ 

It adds that failure to do so could result in a large, backdated council tax bill.

How will it be policed?

When seeking a new business rates valuation after April 2023, second home owners will need to provide evidence that their property was let or available to let for the required periods.  

The government has said will communicate the exact method for collecting evidence before the new rules come into effect.

However, this is expected to include things like the property being listed on rental websites, and evidence of payments from guests.  

‘Evidence of lettings will be required, such as at least one website or brochure used to advertise the property and letting details and receipts,’ says Boulger. 

Those already paying business rates on their holiday let or second home, and who meet the letting requirements, do not need to submit anything. 

However, they should ensure that they have evidence of the last year’s lettings by April 2023, as the VOA may ask for them at any time. 

‘The only impact the new rules will have on genuine holiday let properties might be the need to provide the evidence outlined above, but this information should be readily available for the owner’s tax return,’ says Boulger. 

What if the property is used by family and friends?

Those who regularly allow family and friends to use their properties for free could find they are no longer eligible to register as a small business under the new rules. 

The government says lettings counted in the 70-day period must be on a ‘commercial basis’ at ‘market rates’ and that ‘lettings to friends or relatives at zero or nominal rents will not be covered.’ 

No more mates rates? Money will need to change hands when the property is let, or it will not be counted as a holiday letting under the government's new 70-day rule

No more mates rates? Money will need to change hands when the property is let, or it will not be counted as a holiday letting under the government’s new 70-day rule

Of course, if there are 70 days of commercial lettings on top of discounted ones to friends and family, this will not be a problem.  

Boulger says owners should still be able to rent to people they know at a small discount as part of the 70 days, for example if they are deducting the fees that a listings website would normally charge for a letting via their platform. 

‘It should not prevent the owner offering a reasonable discount to family on friends if, for example, they can avoid the normal commission otherwise payable to the sites advertising their property,’ he says.    

What are the rules outside of England?

Wales has already had similar rules for holiday lets in place since 2010, and the new legislation will bring England in line with those.

The Scottish government is also set to introduce a requirement that holiday lets are rented for 70 days and available for 140 days in a given year, following a consultation called the Barclay Review. 

These rules are set to come into force from 1 April 2022. 

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Man admits to abduction of four-year-old Australian Cleo Smith

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A man has pleaded guilty to abducting a four-year-old girl from her family’s camping tent on Australia’s west coast last year.

Police found the girl, Cleo Smith, alone in a house in Carnavon, a town of 5,000 people, 18 days after she went missing last October.

Terence Darrell Kelly (36) admitted to the abduction during a brief court appearance in Carnarvon on Monday in a video link from a Perth prison, 900 km to the south.

He faces a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison on a conviction of forcibly taking a child aged under 16. He will next appear in a Western Australian state District Court in Perth on March 20.

Kelly has not entered a plea to other criminal charges he faces, including assaulting a public officer. Those charges have been adjourned to a later date. – AP

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