Harry Mallinder once again displayed nerves of steel to steer the Wanderers to a dramatic 30-29 Aviva ‘A’ League win at Gloucester on Monday night.
The 18-year-old came off the bench with half an hour left to play at Kingsholm and kept his cool to land a last-minute match-winning penalty.
The Wanderers had gone 29-27 down with seven minutes to go, but Mallinder, who is making a habit of being a late hero, had the final say.
The young centre also kicked a late game-sealing penalty when England Under-18s beat Wales in the semi-finals of the FIRA/AER European Championships in Poland in April.
And he was at it again at Kingsholm to ensure the Wanderers’ stirring comeback ended with a first win of the new ‘A’ League campaign.
Gloucester were 21-6 up at one point, but Jamie Elliott, Alex Day and a penalty try, along with the assured boots of Will Hooley and Mallinder earned the victory.
It was a fine effort, especially after Billy Burns and Will Safe had powered the home side into a 14-0 lead early on.
The Wanderers had shown early signs of promise despite the deficit and Hooley was able to get his team on the board with a penalty after Gloucester offended at the breakdown.
The visiting 10 was on the board again just three minutes later, landing another penalty as the experience of the away side began to tell.
But Gloucester reasserted themselves at scrum time and after finding favour with referee Philip Davies, they used the possession to create a third score of the night.
Steph Reynolds, who was an early replacement for Tom Isaacs, was the man with it as he used his searing pace to latch onto Safe’s kick through.
Burns converted again and the Wanderers were on the ropes, but they came up with the perfect response as Hooley’s class told.
The fly-half put in a perfect cross-kick for Elliott, who did the rest, and with the extras added, the Wanderers set about cutting the gap further before the break.
Gloucester held them up, but the green, black and gold wasted little time eating into the lead in the second half as Day bamboozled the hosts with a show-and-go score.
Hooley cut the deficit to a single point but missed the chance to put the Wanderers ahead soon after, failing with a penalty attempt.
It wasn’t long before Gloucester were behind, though, as Tom Collins was held back with the line beckoning and Davies awarded a penalty try.
Hooley stretched the lead to six points with the successful conversion, but the Cherry and Whites weren’t done as Lloyd Evans finished off a clever Thomas dart to score.
Thomas’s conversion drifted wide, but he was more accurate with a penalty seven minutes from the end, pushing Gloucester into a two-point lead.
But Mallinder was to have the last word as the Wanderers forwards won a penalty at the final scrum and the kicker kept his never to secure a thrilling win.
Gloucester: A Thomas; Purdy, Isaacs (Reynolds 11), Meakes, Monahan; Burns (Evans 60), Braley (Bassett 76); Gibbons (Goodrick-Clarke 73), Lutui (Clarey 60), Knight (Cole 60); Stooke, Hicks; Voss (Batley 65), Luxton (D Thomas 65), Safe.
Wanderers: Collins; Elliott (Robinson 75), Waldouck, Stephenson (Mallinder 50), Packman; Hooley (Hutchinson 68), A Day; E Waller (Hobbs-Awoyemi 68), Marshall, Denman (Parkins 50); Woolford, Craig (Onojaife 62); Dolan, Harrison, Fisher (Ludlam 68).
Referee: Philip Davies