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.
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.