GLOUCESTER director of rugby Nigel Davies admitted his side’s poor start gave them a mountain to climb as they fell to league-leaders Saracens, writes Charlie Talbot-Smith.
The Cherry & Whites hosted Sarries in confident fashion after recording back-to-back Aviva Premiership victories against Worcester Warriors and London Irish that helped ease any fears around Kingsholm.
But they fell short of making it a hat-trick of wins as Neil De Kock, David Strettle and Alex Goode all scored tries for Saracens, while Owen Farrell added 14 points with the boot as Mark McCall's men racked up their highest ever tally at Kingsholm in the 29-8 victory.
Gloucester were second-best throughout and only had a Billy Twelvetrees penalty and a late Matt Cox score to show for their endeavours – even losing a late scrum despite Sarries being down to 13 men – all of which made for a bad day at the office for Davies.
"The game was really won in the first half," Davies said. "They (Saracens) have the type of game that brings tremendous pressure to the opposition, and if you are not on top of your game or accurate enough they will find you out.
"When they start to put the squeeze on you, they are very accurate in what they do. We knew what was coming, and we didn't deal with it. Physically, in the first half, we were second best.
"I think they are the most difficult side that we have come up against. In what they do and the game they have, they do it very well.
"I felt we would be a lot more competitive going into this fixture on the back of our last two results and we are hugely disappointed.
"But we have to learn from the experience and we have to keep on learning.
"The first-half performance was not good enough, but I am not taking anything away from Saracens. They were the architects of that in many ways."
For Saracens the victory keeps them flying high at the top of the Aviva Premiership table, having now won 11 of their 12 games.
And boss McCall was left beaming after watching his table-toppers’ latest masterclass.
"I think the first 30 minutes was as good as we've been in terms of our overall game," McCall said.
"Our set piece was dominant, our kicking game and intensity were at a high level, and we combined that with some really good rugby as well.
"To be 19-0 up away from home against Gloucester takes a bit of doing. It was a great performance."
Saracens even kept Gloucester out when they had forwards Billy Vunipola and Steve Borthwick sin-binned in quick succession during the second half, and McCall added: "We showed that togetherness, we fought for everything and the fact we didn't concede during that time was outstanding.
"To back up the Leicester performance (before Christmas) with two away wins like we've done against Worcester and Gloucester, tells you a lot about the culture and togetherness at the club.
"We are in a good place at the moment."
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