Mallinder back in action but Wanderers are beaten by Gloucester
Harry Mallinder was handed 40 minutes on his return to action in the Wanderers' 34-17 defeat to Gloucester United at Franklin's Gardens on Monday night.
Mallinder was making his comeback following more than a year on the sidelines due to a knee injury he sustained against Clermont Auvergne last October.
And he was able to show glimpses of his undoubted class while on the field, producing a tidy chip and gather and an eye-catching offload.
He was replaced at the break as the coaches eased him back into action, and the Wanderers were 12-3 down by the time he went off.
The hosts responded during the second half thanks to scores from guest players Rob Povey and Harry Graham.
But Gloucester scored three further tries of their own as they came back from 17-15 down to win it.
The first 25 minutes had largely been about the Wanderers' defensive defiance as Gloucester pushed forward.
The away side were held up on one occasion and conceded a penalty at the resulting scrum as the Wanderers showed real resilience.
And the men in black, green and gold took the lead thanks to a penalty from fly-half Tommy Mathews, which was won at the breakdown.
Full-back Mallinder was showing flashes of his ability as he helped to gain some ground for his team.
And after the Wanderers went to the corner, Tui Uru saw an effort ruled out.
Gloucester took the lead with a sucker punch as Henry Walker intercepted and charged forward to send scrum-half Charlie Chapman over in the corner.
The conversion was missed by George Barton but Gloucester continued to try to turn the screw.
However, the Wanderers won their third scrum penalty of the night to hold out again.
It was only a stay of execution though as Gloucester kept their foot on the accelerator, winning a scrum penalty and kicking to the corner before Harry Butler drove over.
Barton converted to make it 12-3 at the break.
Mallinder was withdrawn as the coaches sought to protect him after so long on the sidelines.
And his replacement, Birmingham Moseley's Povey, made an immediate impact, latching on to a tidy Mathews pass and charging through to score.
Mathews converted and the deficit was just two points.
Barton made it five with a penalty soon after, but the Wanderers were enjoying more possession and territory than they had at any other point in the game.
And they scored again when another replacement dived over just after coming on, with Nottingham scrum-half Graham gathering a fine offload from skipper Mitch Eadie, who had shown great awareness to pick up and power into space.
Mathews converted and the Wanderers led 17-15, but Gloucester went back in front as Josh Gray forced his way over.
The conversion made it 22-17 and Ollie Newman, just on for Eadie, and Rob Langley did some fine work at the breakdown to stop Gloucester working the ball for another score.
The Wanderers built up some pressure as they sought to get back in the game, but their hopes of victory were ended when Mathews raced back to cover but failed to grab the ball, allowing Barton to bag a simple score.
The same player converted to make it 29-17 and Gloucester again defended well late on before a quick tap from Stephen Varney allowed Aaron Hinkley to score and put the seal on the success.
Wanderers: Mallinder (Povey 40); Gillespie, Strachan, Francis (Branco 62), Olowofela; Mathews, Crocker (Graham 52); Trinder (Iyogun 70) Hughes (Farnworth 70), Garside (Prowse 70); Langley (Ampthill), Onojaife; Tonks, Eadie (c) (Newman 62), Uru (Weaver 70).