Despite a strong second half performance Gloucester lost out in the Zurich Wild Card final at Twickenham to Saracens on Saturday.
The Kingsholm team went in 17-6 down at half time, but second half tries from Brad Davies and Adam Eustace took them to within one point.
Tevita Vaikona delivered the killer blow that ensured Saracens, and not Gloucester, will be playing Heineken Cup rugby next season.
The former Super League man powered over with five minutes to go, and killed off Gloucester's second-half revival after Saracens had lost the initiative after first half tries from Hugh Vyvyan and Ben Johnston.
Gloucester surrendered turnover ball and a handful of kicks at goal, and the second half strikes from from Bradley Davies and Adam Eustace, just weren't enough.
It was Gloucester who had started the stronger, putting pressure on Saracens at the lineout and forcing their way downfield for Duncan McRae to kick them into a 6-0 lead inside the first five minutes.
McRae, though, missed three similar shots at goal in the first half and his team paid for their mistakes when Saracens punished two turnovers with tries.
Saracens edged in front when they moved the ball wide when Thomas Castaignede's floated pass was plucked out of the air by Vyvyan, who forced his way through the last tackler to the line.
Glen Jackson converted, added a penalty in the 24th minute, and then watched as Johnston went through unopposed in the 32nd minute.
Gloucester were attacking when wing James Bailey knocked on, and Johnston - picked ahead of Richard Haughton on the wing - recovered the ball, cut inside then beat and dummied his way past the defenders to the line.
Jackson's conversion put Saracens 17-6 clear at the break. But Saracens couldn't add to their score, and it was Gloucester who struck back.
They decided to go over the top with McRae's cross-kick allowing full-back Brad Davies to score in the corner in the 54th minute.
Gloucester's second touchdown came only a few minutes later when Mark Foster cut inside from the wing, and stood up strong in the tackle to give Eustace a run to the line with TMO Geoff Warren ruling the ball had been grounded.
Missed conversions, though, from McRae and then Davies, still left them trailing by a point and Saracens reorganized going into the last 10 minutes.
He stretched the play left, where Richard Haughton threatened, then quickly right to give Vaikona the chance to burst inside prop Gary Powell and evade Andy Gomarsall's covering dive.
Simon Raiwalui lost the ball inside the Saracens half and Buxton snapped it up. Saracens were penalised straight after and McRae slotted the three points (2 mins).
(3-0 to Glos)
Balding broke through the Saracens tacklers on half-way, McRae and Forrester kept the play moving. Gomarsall recycled down the short side and he broke from a maul to make another 20 metres. McRae spread play wide on the open side and Saracens were caught off-side. McRae stepped up for the three points (5 mins).
(6-0 to Glos)
Saracens hit back straight away from the restart. The play was spread wide to Vaikona, who was brought down by Bailey. The opposition forwards were quick to the ball and Rauluni spun the ball out quickly to Jackson, who found Vyvyan on the overlap for the try. Jackson converted (6 mins).
(7-6 to Saracens)
A well-judged kick from McRae pinned Saracens back to within three metres of their own line. Gloucester put the pressure on Moses Rauluni on his own try line to win the scrum. But as the ball came out of the set-piece, Gomarsall's pass to Forrester ended the move, and Saracens broke away, before Gloucester's defence covered.
Gloucester got back to a more positive field position, when McRae broke from stand-off into the Saracens 22.
Gomarsall kept the tempo going with McRae, then Forrester and Simpson-Daniel taking short pop passes in the centres. Brown then knocked on in a similar move, but Saracens missed the breakaway opportunity from their own 22.
Glen Jackson's attempted drop goal went wide, and Spreadbury brought play back for a penalty to Saracens. Jackson's kick went wide.
(7-6 to Saracens)
Castaignede returned Gloucester's restart, and his kick went to Kiole, who struggled to hold on and gave Saracens a scrum just outside the Gloucester 22.
The London side passed the ball out wide from the set-piece, with Vaikona running a good angle. Castaignede joined the line, and his pass to Johnston was forward. But from the scrum, Gloucester were penalised and Jackson opted for the three points, and extended their lead (24 mins).
(10-6 to Saracens)
Saracens were penalised just inside their own half for coming in at the side after Powell had taken the ball into contact. McRae's kick hit the post and Vaikona cleared up field (25 mins).
Gloucester combined well inside the Saracens half. Powell, Buxton and McRae combined from a line-out. The half-backs put Mefin Davies into space. Simpson-Daniel tried to find space, but the Saracens defence was up quick. Brown then space on the short-side from McRae's pass, Seti Kiole took Brown's off-load, but knocked on in the tackle.
Ben Johnston tore into Gloucester's defence. He picked up a loose ball after Bailey knocked on around half-way. The right winger ran inwards and then straightened up and sliced through the Gloucester players to run 40 metres under the posts. Jackson converted.
(17-6 to Saracens)
Duncan McRae lined up a long-range penalty effort just inside the Saracens half, but it went just wide.
McRae gave Brown a well-timed short pass, and Saracens were penalised midway in their own half. McRae opted for the posts, but his kick, from in front of the posts, went wide.
Half time: Saracens 17 Gloucester 6
Terry Fanolua replaced Seti Kiole.
Gloucester started the second half with all the possession. Gomarsall moved his forwards 40 metres up field with a number of phases, with Brown, Eustace, Powell, Forrester and Fanolua all making metres. But the ball was turned over on the Saracens 22 by Fanolua, and the opposition countered, with Johnston almost breaking clear.
Saracens maintained their momentum, when Vaikona returned a McRae kick that missed touch. Johnston saw another gap, and was held up.
Gloucester were kept on the back-foot as Saracens ran every loose kick. Bailey was injured in one of the attacks, and was replaced by Mark Foster.
Raiwalui was replaced by Chesney.
Gloucester had their first chance of the second period. Balding had made good ground in the tight. Gomarsall, Mefin Davies and Luke Narraway exchanged passes on the Saracens 22, before Gomarsall put Forrester into space out wide. Foster was in support, but his ball inside was turned over.
Gloucester scored their first try, when Gomarsall took a quick tap free-kick. His pass to McRae, saw the Aussie stand-off look up and launch an inch perfect cross-field kick that Brad Davies took at full pace to dive over for the try. McRae's touchline conversion was just wide.
(17-11 to Saracens)
Cairns and Yates came on as replacements in the Saracens front row.
Kyran Bracken and Taine Randell also came on for Saracens.
Balding stole Saracens line-out ball. Powell barged his way over the gain line, with Balding following up. McRae then pinned Johnston back into his own 22 with a kick, and Foster was up quick to take the Saracens winger into touch and set up Gloucester set-piece ball.
Haughton replaced Johnston.
Balding stole the ball as Saracens went for a high kick on halfway. He quickly off-loaded to Forrester, who broke forward. Fanolua took it on and Foster was out wide, the young winger cut inside and was held up before Eustace picked up and drove over for a try. Spreadbury went to the video official. Try came up, and Brad Davies stepped up for the conversion, but it went wide.
Simon Raiwalui returned to the pitch for Chesney, and Gloucester were caught off-side on halfway, but Jackson's kick went long.
Bartholomeusz replaced Dan Harris.
Gloucester upped a gear and started breaking the gain line with Fanolua and Simpson-Daniel threatening. Simpson-Daniel, Forrester and Brad Davies then put a good series of passes together, but Gloucester were penalised for not releasing the ball as they kept Saracens in their own half.
Visagie returned to the pitch for Lloyd.
Fanolua knocked on in the tackle and Saracens broke for one of their only chances in the second half, but Gloucester's defence regrouped.
Fullarton replaced by Chesney.
Castaignede broke from a missed McRae tackle. Bartholomeusz was in support, as well as Vaikona. Gloucester's defence got back in numbers and Gomarsall's tackle brought the former Super League player down, before Balding's team cleared up-field.
Terry Sigley replaced Nick Wood.
Foster made a try-saving tackle on Haughton, but Saracens recycled quickly inside the Gloucester 22, and Vaikona broke the line from Glen Jackson's pass and rounded Gary Powell to score. Jackson's conversion was good.
(24-16 to Saracens)
Azam came on for Mefin Davies.
McRae got hammered in a late tackle by Skirving.
Gomarsall and McRae again combined, and Fanolua broke for the line. But his pass inside to Eustace was palmed down by Saracens.
Final score: Saracens 24 Gloucester 16
Gloucester: Brad Davies, Seti Kiole (Terry Fanolua 41), James Simpson-Daniel, James Forrester, James Bailey (Mark Foster 49), Duncan McRae, Andy Gomarsall, Nicholas Wood (Terry Sigley 72), Mefin Davies (Olivier Azam 75), Gary Powell, Adam Eustace, Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Luke Narraway, Adam Balding.
Replacements (not used): Mark Cornwell, James Merriman, Alex Page.
Saracens: Thomas Castaignede, Ben Johnston (Richard Haughton 59), Kevin Sorrell, Dan Harris (Mark Bartholomeusz 61), Tevita Vaikona, Glen Jackson, Moses Raulini (Kyran Bracken 56), Nick Lloyd (Visagie 67), Raphael Ibanez (Matthew Cairns 55), Cobus Visagie (Kevin Yates 55), Iain Fullarton (Kris Chesney 70), Simon Raiwalui (Kris Chesney 49-59), Ben Skirving, Richard Hill (Taine Randell 60), Hugh Vyvyan.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.