GLOUCESTER head coach Johan Ackermann said the performance was not up to scratch as his side went down to a dismal 28-17 defeat to Harlequins at The Stoop in their second Aviva Premiership clash of the season.

The Cherry and Whites were in the game just once but, when they were within striking distance of the home team at 17-10 behind, they gave away too many kickable penalties to allow Quins teenager Marcus Smith to boot his side away and clear.

A try from back row Freddie Clarke in the second-half, converted by fly-half Billy Burns, who also kicked a first-half penalty, had put Gloucester within touch but a late corner try from replacement Jacob Rowan, which replacement centre Billy Twelvetrees converted from the touchline, was little comfort as Gloucester came away from the match without any points to show for it.

Ackermann was blunt in his appraisal of the game. He said: "It was very disappointing, not the result but the way we played.

“It is cruel that there has to be a loser but, as I always say, if you go down with a decent fight, you can walk away with more satisfaction than the way we lost here.

"I don't want to take anything away from Harlequins but the mistakes we made just made it easy for them. The first two line-outs, we made handling errors and we couldn’t keep the ball.

“The tries they scored were so easy. Our kick-chase allowed them to run through the holes (we left) so again it is a deep, hard look at ourselves.

"We must have a good look at ourselves. I knew we should not get over-excited about week one.”

Where Gloucester were on the money against reigning Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs last week in victory, they were like a rusty old penny at The Stoop.

Ackermann added: “Last week, there was a lot of commitment and energy than here. In this game, we lacked our intensity and energy and that is something I always want us to have.”

Gloucester gave away too many penalties to Quins, indeed they let them have five in a 15 minute period during the second-half, and discipline is an issue Ackermann says need addressing.

“There are some calls which are debatable and where you have to adjust to the official on the day, and I think Harlequins got away with a fair bit on the mauling, but those things we control, a lot of the decisions were unnecessary and we just kept ourselves pinned down in our half.

“Those little things, penalties you give away in which you make a conscious decision on were just not good enough, not for this level. The teams are too good and if they are going to get constant penalties, they are going to push you down.

“If you look at the kicking game, Harlequins were excellent. Their box kicks were right on the touchlines, and, when you catch it, you are getting tackled.

“It started badly and we didn’t recover. That is what is disappointing. You get the whole week to prepare and then, on matchday, that execution let us down.

“We didn’t go through three phases before we lost the ball. That patience with ball in hand was the big difference.

“At the start of the game, last week against Exeter, we kept in touch with them. Here, the moment they went up 10-3 and then they went in (half-time) 17-3, we never looked like staying in touch because every time we looked like getting an opportunity, it was either a penalty or a mistake and they would kick us back and we had to start again.”