Not making the most of big moments in games is holding Scotland back from contending for the Six Nations title, says head coach Gregor Townsend.

Johnny Sexton’s late penalty handed the Scots a second straight defeat at Murrayfield, as Ireland won 27-24.

It followed a one-point loss to Wales, having beaten England away for the first time in 38 years.

“Making the most of your moments,” Townsend said when asked what was spoiling his side’s chances.

“There was obviously big moments in the Wales game that didn’t go our way. There was a big one at the end [Duhan van der Merwe’s late run] that could easily have led to a try and a victory.

“We’re showing a competitiveness in these games right to the end. But we feel we’re better than that.

“But we can’t be better until we record back-to-back victories which we’ve not done these last two games.”

After a month without a game due to their match with France being postponed, Scotland now face two six-day turnarounds, with the rescheduled trip to Paris expected to be played on 26 March and Italy visiting Edinburgh on Saturday.

Townsend says it is “unlikely” Finn Russell will be available for the Italy game, as the fly-half suffered a concussion against Ireland and had to be taken off after an hour.

Second-row duo Scott Cummings and Jonny Gray are also injury doubts.

“Scott Cummings, we fear might have a fracture on his hand and, if that’s the case, he won’t be involved next week,” the Scotland head coach said.

“Jonny Gray had a shoulder issue, so well see how that is. That’s three players and I imagine there will be a few sore at training on Tuesday and we’ll need to see where we are then.”