GLOUCESTER got the one point they needed for qualification into the Guinness A League semi-finals - but it was Saracens who claimed victory with an 16-11 success at Kingsholm on Monday night.
Despite a rasping start and a try after only two minutes, Gloucester could not build on their early advantage and became bogged down against Saracens' more experienced forward operation and their work at the contact area.
It was Gloucester's second defeat within the space of a week but their form earlier in the competition means they will contest a semi-final later in the season.
By the end Saracens were well worth their advantage because they controlled the majority of the second half as the contest developed into a battle of kicking wits and Gloucester couldn't find a way of springing from deep.
However, they went ahead early when Freddie Burns made a lovely outside break to get behind Saracens' defensive line and was able to off-load towards Henry Trinder and he burst clear to the line.
There was plenty of pace in the Gloucester back-line - Trinder, Burns, Charlie Sharples and Dan Norton all had their moments - and they increased their lead with an 11th minute Tristan Roberts penalty after Sarries were penalised for not releasing the tackled player.
That made it 8-0 and although there was also some good work from prop David Young, Jed Hooper and Andres Pretorious, Saracens absorbed everything Gloucester produced.
And they cut the gap three minutes into the second half with and Alex Goode penalty and then, when Norton tried to run out of defence at the end of the third quarter, Saracens turned the ball over and Goode kicked another penalty to make it 11-6.
Gloucester couldn't hold onto the ball or territory for long enough and with the likes of Dave Seymour, Kris Chesney and Hayden Smith getting through plenty of the tough stuff, Saracens grew into the contest.
With 12 minutes remaining they got the try to take the lead. Replacement Jamie Hearn came to the left following a scrum and put full-back Edd Thrower in for the score. Goode made no mistake with the conversion and Gloucester were 11-13 behind.
Goode then landed a 73rd minute penalty before Gloucester raised themselves for one last crack at the end. Scott Lawson, Hooper and Will Waldron were all involved up front but Gloucester couldn't find a way through and Saracens held on for victory.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
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.
The Gloucester Rugby Ticket office can advise that the club's initial allocation of tickets for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final has sold out. However, the club has secured an additional allocation of tickets from EPCR which will go on sale on Monday.
Following Saturday evening's exciting European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Exeter Chiefs, the Ticket Office at Kingsholm will be open on Sunday from 11am to 3pm for Club Members to purchase tickets for the Final.
Gloucester Rugby qualified for their first European final since 2006 as they defeated the in-form Exeter Chiefs by 30 points to 19 in a thrilling semi-final at Kingsholm on Saturday evening. The club photographer caught the best of the action.
Recent meetings between these two teams have often been thrillers, and this was no exception. It went down to the final few minutes, but Gloucester produced the goods when it mattered to qualify for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final, beating Exeter 30-19.