An intense opening 40 minutes had seen kickers Maxime Machenaud and Stephen Myler land three penalties between them. Try scoring opportunities were few and far between, Racing being held at bay by stiff Saints goal line defence, and Luther Burrell being beaten by the bounce of the ball at the other end after a neat George North grubber kick.
But cracks in the dam emerged when Juan Imhoff finished off a slick blindside move after time had expired, which the Racing winger then made even wider a minute after the resumption of play when he capitalised on a Saints attack breaking down on the visitors’ 22.
Then when Benjamin Lapeyre stripped Burrell of the ball to race clear for another try two minutes later Racing found themselves with a 22-point lead that would be insurmountable.
George North did slide over in the left corner for his seventh try in the Champions Cup campaign, but even this was no consolation as fellow Welshman Jamie Roberts capped his man of the match performance by crashing over on the hour.
However it was those scores around the break which Mallinder was reflecting on post-match.
“You don’t want to concede just before half-time, and that’s what we did,” he told SaintsTV. “Instead of going in 3-6 down you’re 11-3 down, which is quite a big difference.
“Then in the second half we came out and attacked, had a three-on-two on their 22 but got turned over and then you’re another seven points behind.
“Racing are a quality side. They put us under pressure in key areas, looked after the ball themselves, didn’t over-play, and on the day they deserved to win.
“It’s disappointing. We had high hopes, we wanted to get a win today to get a home quarter final, but it wasn’t to be.”
Despite the loss, Saints will still be in the business end of the competition when it resumes after the Six Nations, albeit with an away trip that will be confirmed once the pool stages have been concluded on Sunday.
And Mallinder said that the team will be up for the challenge when it comes around in April.
“We’re still in the competition,” he added. “We’ve got a bit of time now where our focus turns to the LV= Cup and then the Aviva Premiership, and then in a couple of months time we’ve got an away quarter final, and we’ll embrace that when it comes.”