Nigel Davies admits Gloucester were simply not good enough as they were smashed by Saracens.
The Premiership leaders dominated every facet of the game as they stormed to their biggest victory over the Cherry and Whites at Kingsholm.
An under-powered pack has been Gloucester’s Achilles heel all season but a chronic lack of confidence has spread like wildfire throughout the team.
While they had little go-forward ball to operate with, the half-backs exerted little control and the much heralded three-quarters once again failed to fire in the 28-9 defeat.
The pre-match talk at their Hartpury training base was all about dealing with Saracens’ high-pressured game plan, which is built upon high-intensity, a dominant pack and subtle offloading with a ruthless edge.
Gloucester knew exactly what was coming from Mark McCall’s men yet they still fell into the trap as they trailed by 16 points at the interval.
Davies said: “We’re bitterly disappointed with the first-half performance and just weren’t good enough.
“In many ways Saracens were the architects of that but we knew what was coming. It’s not complicated but if you can’t deal with it that’s what happens.
“The game was certainly won in the first half where they played exceptionally well. They’re the type of team that brings tremendous pressure and if you’re not on top of your game and aren’t accurate enough they will find you out. We got found out in those first 30 minutes.
“We weren’t clinical or accurate enough throughout and in that first half we weren’t physical enough. We didn’t execute the game-plan and put ourselves under pressure.”
“We knew what was coming but didn’t deal with it.”
All three of Saracens’ tries came with staggering ease, none more so than Alex Goode’s final effort, as the ball was spread to the full-back from scrappy first-phase ball and hardly a finger laid upon him.
It was the kind of performance that would give a defence guru nightmares with centres Mike Tindall and Billy Twelvetrees missing six tackles between them.
Davies was bitterly disappointed with the defensive effort but believes it all stemmed from the dominance Saracens enjoyed up front.
He said: “They weren’t difficult tries at all but they came from the pressure they put on us.
"Consequently you can react in the wrong manner, which we did on all three occasions. It’s frustrating but it all came from the pressure they were able to exert.
“They’re probably the most difficult side we have come up against.
“Other sides are perhaps a bit more expansive but Saracens are adding a lot to their armoury and they do the basics very well.
“Their set-piece was very good and a lot of that pressure came from there. When they put the squeeze on you they are accurate in what they do.”
While Davies could not hide his frustration following yet another setback in a miserable season, he insists the encounter cannot be looked at in isolation.
Consecutive victories over Worcester Warriors and London Irish eased any fears over relegation but in all reality Saturday’s result reflects the two teams’ league positions.
Saracens already appear destined for the Premiership final and the way they ruthlessly dispatched Leicester Tigers last month was testament to their quality.
Attention now turns to Europe and Satutday’s make-or-break Heineken Cup clash with Munster.
Davies said: “I thought we would be a lot more competitive on the back of the last two victories.
"We’re hugely disappointed with the performance but we can’t just look at it in isolation.
“We have to learn from it, keep developing and delivering those lessons – that’s clarity, execution and the intensity we can bring at certain stages.
“Overall the Christmas period has been reasonable for us, getting those two wins, but Saracens was a backwards step. I thought we would have a lot more about us but now we go into Europe and will have a real crack at Munster next week.
“Motivation won’t be a problem for us. It’s another big test but we went out there and gave them a game and hopefully we can do the same at Kingsholm.
“It’s a huge occasion, a huge opportunity and there’s a bit of history in this fixture. We’re looking forward to it and it will be a week where we will bring onboard those lessons.”
The only positive from the defeat was the impact made by reinforcements from the bench, in particular Dan Robson, as the Cherry and Whites rallied at the death.
And Davies admits it will give him plenty of food for thought ahead of Gloucester’s European day of destiny.
He added: “We dug in in the second half and the subs came on and added a lot of energy, which is also a bit worrying because we should have had it from the start.
“Dan did well, Gareth Evans as well and Shane Monahan, who hasn’t played for a while, got involved.
“They definitely brought something and that’s what you want from your bench. Replacements have to bring energy and they certainly did that. It’s something to consider ahead of next week.”