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.
Speaking to the local media this week ahead of the Bath Rugby game, Head Coach Laurie Fisher stressed that the fundamental shape of Gloucester's game is in good shape but that the Cherry and Whites have to look after the ball better and make more of their scoring opportunities.
Skipper for the day Willi Heinz faced the cameras after the 13-18 home loss to Newcastle and expressed real frustration at not being able to back up last week's win at Sale, calling it a performance he and his team-mates are not proud of.
Speaking after the game, Charlie Sharples described it as 'the win that has eluded us.' The winger stressed that Gloucester had stayed positive after the first couple of weeks of the Aviva Premiership season and the 26-13 victory over Sale was a result of that focus.
Gloucester Rugby picked up their first win of the new Aviva Premiership season on Friday night, easing to a 26-13 win on the road at Sale Sharks. Director of Rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his players on the night.
Greig Laidlaw is back to skipper Gloucester Rugby in Saturday's Aviva Premiership derby game against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm. James Hook will make his first start of the season at full-back and Billy Twelvetrees will make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.