Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has defended the two players who filled in at fly-half after regular starter Finn Russell was called up by the British and Irish Lions.

Townsend admitted, however, that his side had never managed to get their attack going as they went down to a 27-22 defeat by Fiji in Suva, a result that will have dropped them to sixth in the World Rugby rankings when they are published on Monday.

“We now know where we are,” said Townsend. “It was tough on them because the ball was slippy and we did not get enough of our attack going, partly because we dropped the ball but also because we chose to drive line-outs.

“That was a success for us but did mean we could not get into our attack shape as we had in the first two games.

“You have got to see other players as well. Finn (Russell) was outstanding last week and had been good the first week as well. He is with the Lions now and it is great that he is getting that experience.”

Peter Horne started at fly-half but then moved to centre when Duncan Taylor went off. Ruaridh Jackson, whose last outing in the position for Scotland was on the summer tour last year, moved from full-back to take over.

Though Jackson did record his first Test try, the backs struggled to break down Fiji’s defence.

Despite that, Townsend maintained that the tour had been an overall success, with the finale in Fiji providing an enjoyable week despite the game.

“It was a great experience to come here, playing in a different environment, different from anything our players have faced,” he said.

“We are going to have regular games against Polynesian teams – we play Samoa in November and might have one in our World Cup group. It is great to face these teams – not so good when you lose but there are areas where we will be a better team from what we learned.”

With two wins from the three games, including a victory over Australia, Townsend feels there were plenty of positives from the tour, only partly undone by the final result.

Captain John Barclay agreed the positives had outweighed the negatives.

“When we play well, we can beat some of the best teams in the world,” he said.

“Last week we played one of the best teams in the world and came away with a win. The flipside is if we don’t play well we make life very hard. We have to be at our best to win games and we have known that for a long time now.

“That is a lesson we have learned. We took confidence from the good stuff we have done but we will learn a lot from the game against Fiji as well.”