Tom Collins’ last-gasp try at the Ricoh Arena gave the Saints a second win from two in pre-season as they denied Wasps in an entertaining second half.
The opening 40 more closely resembled the attrition of a Premiership encounter rather than a pre-season friendly, but both sides cut loose after the break - Jon Fisher and Luther Burrell also crossing for the Saints.
With JJ Hanrahan and Stephen Myler combining to nail five kicks from five, home scores for Christian Wade and Thomas Young - the latter just seven minutes from time - would ultimately prove consolation for Dai Young’s side.
It was they who had started looking the sharper and while Wade was denied by a smart cover tackle from Ben Foden, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Rob Miller combined to serve up another opportunity, a 40-metre penalty that Jimmy Gopperth duly knocked over.
A response was almost immediate, Luther Burrell cutting the grain with a trademark burst in midfield and Lee Dickson dragged down just short. Wasps recovered well, but when a subsequent penalty clearance missed touch, Saints ran it back.
JJ Hanrahan first took them into the Wasps 22 with a penalty and then levelled the game from the tee right in front as Wasps strayed offside.
Back with the ball in their hands though, the hosts were starting to find some fluidity and while a promising move ended with a loose offload from Ashley Johnson, Gopperth was back at the tee to make the most of a penalty advantage.
Again Saints went back up the other end looking for the opening try but Jamie Elliott’s fine finish went unrewarded when play came back for a dangerous clear out at the previous ruck.
It was a rare moment of excitement and with things starting to tighten up even further, it wasn’t until the end of the half that either try line would be threatened, Miller again involved in taking Wasps within touching distance.
The chance was eventually killed, albeit illegally by Lee Dickson, and with the Saints skipper sent to the bin Wasps racked up a string of scrum penalties. The calculated gamble paid off though, Wade again dragged down well when the ball finally came free from the set-piece, this time by Collins, and the sides headed for the changing rooms with the narrowest of margins between them.
Yet while the contest had gone the opening 40 with few if any clearcut chances, the Saints needed just 30 seconds at the start of the second half to create one for Teimana Harrison, who was just about scrambled to touch following Foden’s searing break.
With the home side only half clearing their lines, Saints powered straight back and a scrum battle they had struggled with just before the interval was now going in their favour, affording Stephen Myler the chance to restore parity.
It wouldn’t last long, however, the game finally seeing it’s first try on 50 minutes when Brendan Macken freed his arms to release Miller on the right. The full back in turn found Wade and while Collins did well to reel in his opposite number, there was just too much for the Saintsman to do close so close to his own line.
Gopperth converted, but yet again the concession of points seemed to galvanise the Saints, Foden seeing more space following a quickly taken lineout. The net result was a Saints penalty and having twice gone to the corner, Jon Fisher powered his way through.
Back level for the third time, it was a matter of moments before the Saints led for a first, Burrell reading a Wasps pass in midfield for his second interception and third try in two weeks.
A third penalty of the afternoon from Gopperth steadied the Wasps ship moving past the hour mark before mass changes for both sides.
Wasps would adjust quickest to those alterations, the dangerous Wade a constant menace and another barrage of scrums pegging the Saints to their own line. When the hosts switched their attentions to the lineout drive it was to prove an unstoppable assault and Thomas Young rose from the pile with credit for the try.
Like clockwork though, the Saints were soon back in the Wasps 22 as the game approached a breathless finale and one in which the men in grey were making all the running.
Collins was one of those heavily involved and when he was tackled by an offside defender, Saints were where they needed to be in the corner.
Mike Haywood found his man in the lineout, but just as it looked like the drive would come on, Tom Kessell spotted space on the blindside and smartly released Collins for the win.
15mins WASPS Pen Gopperth 3-0
20mins SAINTS Pen Hanrahan 3-3
25mins WASPS Pen Gopperth 6-3
37mins SAINTS Yellow Dickson
HALF-TIME WASPS 6 SAINTS 6
44mins SAINTS Pen Myler 6-6
50mins WASPS Try Wade Con Gopperth 13-6
55mins SAINTS Try Fisher Con Myler 13-13
58mins SAINTS Try Burrell Con Myler 13-20
60mins WASPS Pen Gopperth 16-20
73mins WASPS Try Young Con Jackson 23-20
79mins SAINTS Try Collins Con Myler 23-27
FULL-TIME WASPS 23 SAINTS 27
Miller; Wade, Daly, Macken, Tagicakibau; Gopperth, Simpson; Mullan (capt), Johnson, Cooper-Woolley, Gaskell, Cannon, Jones, Smith, Thompson
Shervington, McIntyre, Swainston, Rowlands, Young, Rieder, Stevenson, Jackson, Lozowski, Jacobs, Bassett
Foden; Elliott, Stephenson, Burrell, Collins; Hanrahan, Dickson (capt); A Waller, Hartley, Hill, Dickinson, Day, Gibson, Clark, Fisher
Haywood, E Waller, Denman, Paterson, Woolford, Nutley, Harrison, Williams, Kessell, Myler, Eves, Howard, Packman, Tuala
REFEREE Simon Harding