Are England destined for third straight Six Nations title?

Townsend says Harris right has raised his game since his debut against Samoa in the autumn

Townsend says Harris right has raised his game since his debut against Samoa in the autumn

Wales began the second period in untroubled mode, as two Halfpenny penalties during a five-minute spell took them 20 points clear before Scotland boss Gregor Townsend made a triple substitution, including an appearance for scrum-half and former Test captain Greig Laidlaw. He collected 24 points, becoming the third Welshman after Neil Jenkins and Stephen Jones to pass 700 in tests.

After a manic opening quarter, the game settled into a rhythm but Scotland looked stereotypically naive, turning the ball over on too many occasions and wincing under the pressure at the set piece.

Scotland team to play Wales at Cardiff: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour (both Glasgow), Chris Harris (Newcastle), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Byron McGuigan (Sale); Finn Russell, Ali Price (both Glasgow); Gordon Reid (London Irish), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Jon Welsh (Newcastle); Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow); John Barclay (Scarlets), Hamish Watson, Cornell du Preez (both Edinburgh).

Their next win will be the 50th under Warren Gatland and their 50th in the Six Nations.

Steff Evans, who was excellent throughout the 80 minutes, showed his finishing ability when he dotted down in the corner towards the end of the game.

"The players coming in all believed in their own ability and they think they're better than the players not involved", he said.

Wales will be the underdogs again next week at Twickenham when they face the two-time defending champions but Gatland expects to have at least two of his Lions backs available.

Scotland was being blanked until the second-to-last minute, when replacement centre Peter Horne crossed.

"It was an afternoon I was expecting with the way we have trained the last couple of weeks", Wales coach Gatland said. But the Scots, who have grown tougher at home, still can't get over a woeful record away from Murrayfield: This was their 16th loss in their last 18 away matches in the championship. "That was miles below what we know we are capable of and where we need to be at in this championship".

Another chance went begging when captain Alun Wyn Jones charged through a hole in midfield only for Gareth Anscombe to drop the pass. No matter, Wales was still on attack, and Halfpenny expertly finished a two-on-one.

Unlike Scotland, Wales wings Evans and new cap Josh Adams were making big yards on the outsides.

Halfpenny got a huge cheer for adding the conversion from just inside the left hand touchline - but that was nothing to the roar that greeted the score which ended his long try drought.

Injuries during the Six Nations are one thing, but the fact they are a major talking point even before this season's edition kicks off highlights the increasingly brutal nature of professional rugby union.

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