Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall praised Gloucester for their dramatic improvement after his team were beaten 54-7 in the final round of the Premiership.
Having already qualified for the play-offs, McCall rested key internationals for the final round and came up well short against an improving Gloucester.
McCall discussed the influence of coach George Skivington on Gloucester and sees the Cherry and Whites going from strength to strength.
“Their improvement under George has been remarkable, really,” McCall said.
“Their squad isn’t that much different, to be honest. They’ve got a real back-bone now which wasn’t there before.
“They do the fundamentals very well, and they have got firepower to burn on the outside. They are going to be a real force to be reckoned with.
“It is always disappointing when you lose by that margin. I am not sure if the score reflected the effort we put into the match, to be honest.
“They were incredibly clinical when they got down our end. Their rolling maul was too good for us today. They scored at least four tries from the rolling maul. We huffed and we puffed.”
McCall takes responsibility for the result as he decided to rest players and looks ahead to next weekend to see if the gamble pays off.
“I was the the person who made all the changes to the team,” he said.
“We had taken the decision to rest our XV for next week, and we will see next week whether that has paid off or not.
“We took a decision over what was best for us, we felt, and we will see next week whether that is a good decision or not.”
Skivington heaped praise on his team’s performance and hopes to be a “top team” next year as he continues to build on his project at the club.
“Sneaking in the playoffs would have been ideal, obviously, but I think in terms of what we could control I thought it was a really tight-knit performance,” Skivington said.
“We wanted to get some maul drives going and our defence to be top-notch. We wanted to give a proper performance. The rest of it was always going to take care of itself, and it hasn’t fallen our way.
“I thought the boys stuck to process really well. I am very proud of them.
“Sometimes when you get ahead, it is very easy to ease up, but out of respect for everyone who comes here week in, week out, it was important to stick to what we are about.
“There is a huge amount for us to work on. If we want to be a top team year after year, we’ve got to get better in a lot of areas.
“The foundation is that we have a really good group of players who work really hard. There are good people, good leaders in there.”