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.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
Speaking to GRTV after the final whistle, Tom Palmer praised the Cherry and Whites concentration and desire to hold on to a narrow 14-7 victory. The second row topped the tackle charts with 19 as he led the home team's resistance.
Supporters who are still to purchase tickets for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm) are reminded that Early Bird prices are only valid until 6:30pm on Thursday evening.
The Gloucester Wheelchair Rugby team travelled to Fenton Manor Complex, Stoke on Trent last Saturday to take part in the final round of the GBWR Super Series of the season, knowing just one win would be enough to crown them Division 3 Champions.