JONNY May was thrilled to return “home” with a try but admits Gloucester let themselves down in an embarrassing final quarter.
The Cherry and Whites had the bonus-point wrapped up and appeared out of sight after leading 37-7 following May’s score on the hour mark.
But they lost all shape, composure and discipline as the visitors racked up 26 points in the final 18 minutes to make the final score 40-33.
May finished a sublime counter-attack with his first touch just two minutes after coming on at Kingsholm.
It was the 23-year-old’s first appearance since starting every match of England’s Six Nations and he was delighted to pull on the Cherry and White shirt following his international exploits. He said: “I’ve had a really good time away with England, it was an amazing experience but at the same time I was glad to be back because Kingsholm’s my home and I love playing here.
“It was nice to score a try with my first touch. I remember getting an early pass and seeing Noah Cato running away from me so I went out and back in and there was no cover defence.
“I thought that was it and it would be one of those great days where we would be buzzing in the changing rooms but we got sucked into thinking the game was won and went a bit loose, which gave them the ball. Defensively we were very slow to get around the corner, we made poor decisions at the breakdown and they punished us.
“We’re all gutted and embarrassed almost because that just wasn’t good enough. You can’t let a team come and get easy points and tries, especially at Kingsholm, it’s just really disappointing.”
While the nightmare final quarter brought May back down to earth with a bump following his international exploits, he reckons he has come on in leaps and bounds thanks to his involvement in the England set-up.
He ranks the 29-18 victory over Wales as his Championship highlight but is in no mood to rest on his laurels and is determined to continue his progression as the Cherry and Whites look up the Aviva Premiership table.
He said: “I’ve learnt more in the last eight weeks than during the whole season, just playing along that quality of players, quality coaches and being in that pressure environment I have really come on.
“You can’t explain how much more pressure there is. There’s a lot more people watching, there’s a lot more expectation and a lot more competition.
“Hopefully I can come out of it a lot more mentally tougher. With the pressure and the learning curve, I can come back mentally stronger and also more of an all-round player – physically, mentally, tactically and technically
“There are elements of my game where you just learn from being around good coaches and good players. There’s plenty to work on and I want to keep going upwards.
“The way I am, I never really sit back and appreciate my achievements. If you said to me at the start of the season that you would start every Six Nations game I would be have said ‘flipping yes’.
“But now that I’ve got it, I’m obviously delighted with it but it’s straight back here, I want to keep winning, keep playing well and it’s on to the next job.
“I hope to be involved in the summer tour to New Zealand, but I can’t look that far ahead because there are so many challenges for Gloucester. A week’s a long time in rugby, let alone a couple of months.”
Next up for May will be Saturday’s trip to face Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park. The Devon outfit have won the last two encounters between the sides, including a 40-39 thriller in last season’s corresponding fixture.
The Swindon-born flyer expects another colossal match- up and has urged his teammates to learn the lessons of Saturday’s second-half slip-up as Gloucester bid to go unbeaten in their final block of matches.
He added: “We want to win every one during the rest of the season, it’s achievable and while they’re tough games we have tough games every week – it’s no different.
“Exeter are a strong side, the brand of rugby they play is tough to face and we will have to be a lot better defensively because if we’re not we will be in big trouble.
“But that last 15 minutes doesn’t represent us, we will go back, learn from it and put in a good performance against Exeter.”