GLOUCESTER'S new-look and experimental side suffered a 24-14 defeat in their first pre-season game against Saracens at Kingsholm.
Saracens were fully deserving of their victory because they showed more cohesion as a unit and took advantage of Gloucester's understandably fragile structure in a team that was obviously gelling in key areas.
"To me, tonight is not a success because we didn't win the game and I think it was fairly obvious that for the first 40 minutes we were very much a side finding our feet," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"We looked sharper in the second half, particularly when we played with speed, but I am positive that when some more familiar faces come back into the side we take that performance forward because that was a development for a lot of unfamiliar players.
"There were lots of new faces and it is difficult to ask a new half-back pairing to run a game for you, but we saw the organisational skills of Marco Bortolami in the line-out, a powerful effort from Christian Califano and Willie Walker looks a tidy player.
"Will James has been at Cornish Pirates but I am convinced there is plenty to come from him in the future too.
"The task now is to get some more regular faces back and enhance what we are aiming to do."
Bortolami ran the line-out with streetwise effectiveness, James announced himself to the Kingsholm public inside two minutes with a monstrous demolition of Ben Skirving and when Califano was introduced in the second half, Gloucester won a free-kick from virtually every scrum.
But it was Saracens who were slicker. Glen Jackson was a serious handful at 10, Kevon Sorrell and Ben Johnston ran hard and they kept the ball far better.
Their first try came when Dan Scarbrough and Richard Haughton sustained an attack and when play switched left, Jackson stepped the cover to score after 22 minutes with a lovely angled run.
The second try came four minutes later when scrum-half Alan Dickens tapped a quick penalty to himself close to the line following a neat break by Sorrell.
Gloucester huffed and puffed - Adam Balding, James Merriman and Peter Buxton were always willing to carry ball - but there was little spark and Saracens scored again immediately after the re-start to make it 19-0 when Kris Chesney finished off a penetrating move after Rudi Keil had been penalised for off-side.
And when Ben Russell took another searching pass from Jackson, Saracens were 24-0 ahead with 30 minutes remaining.
Gloucester then made a couple of replacements and both paid instant dividends. Califano's first act was to literally twist a scrum 90 degrees and with Mefin Davies on at hooker, the line-out firmed up.
It was Davies who grabbed the first try, running round to join a line-out and be buried over the line and the set-piece routine worked again ith nine minutes to go for Merriman to be in the vanguard of the move to score.
Walker converted both but the comeback was too late and Saracens were left comfortable 24-14 winners.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV after the win in Brive that the game could have been a tough one to get up for, but that his Gloucester team mates did themselves proud on the night and got a big result.
Reflecting on the 31-20 victory in Brive on Thursday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys said that clinching a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final was the overall aim and duly achieved.
Gloucester may have already clinched a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys wants his side to finish the pool stages on a winning note in Brive on Thursday evening.
Speaking after Saturday's win, James Hudson was happy to record a bonus-point win against a hugely physical Oyonnax side as Gloucester secured their passage into the European Rugby Challenge Cup Quarter Finals
Billy Burns was a try scorer on his first European start for Gloucester and, speaking after the game, admitted that it was good to get the five points although there are still things to work on before the trip to Brive.
Connacht's 30-20 win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening means that they are the third best placed runners up and will come to Kingsholm for the quarter-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup in early April.
Gloucester Rugby today confirmed that supporters who have renewed their Club Membership for next season by March 27th 2015 will receive a free ticket for this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final at Kingsholm in April.
It was a bit of an arm wrestle at times, but two tries in each half did the trick for Gloucester as they defeated CA Brive by 31 points to 20 at the Stade Amedee-Domench on Thursday evening to secure top seeding for the quarter-finals.
As the Cherry and Whites aim to make it six from six in the European Rugby Challenge Cup against Brive (19:45 ko) this evening, Dan Robson is fully focused on continuing the fine momentum of recent weeks.