It was a tough night for the Saints at the start of a long run of Aviva Premiership matches, shipping three first half tries to Wasps and making too many errors, not least in a first half which will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons.
The patterns of play were established in the opening 10 minutes, Wasps getting plenty of possession and territory and Saints not helping their own efforts by making errors in their handling and at the set piece.
A good Harry Mallinder kick-chase aside, the Saints did not have enough of the ball to put Wasps under any serious pressure, let alone create any opportunities. But despite playing on the back foot Saints were remaining patient, stopping the initial Wasps attacks across the park, although they did concede the opening points to Jimmy Gopperth after four minutes.
However the visitors’ efforts were rewarded 15 minutes in, Dan Robson showing good awareness to slide over from a couple of metres out to ground the ball at the base of the post. There was precious little that Mallinder could have done to prevent the finish, and it was a missed tackle in the line in front of him that got the men in white over the gain line and into the danger zone.
There was a half-chance for the Saints as time ticked into the second quarter, Mallinder chipping into space before collecting and setting up a promising position.
But Saints were not able to make the most of the situation, Stephen Myler fumbling a low pass, and their profligacy was punished a couple of minutes later as Rob Miller stayed on his feet through several tackles to score his side’s second.
Myler landed a penalty three minutes later, but it was a rare break in the one-way traffic. A minute later Wasps were seven more points in front, Miller turning provider with a superb break and well timed pass to put Josh Bassett over.
Again the chance had been created by a Saints mistake, Luther Burrell and George Pisi failing to connect in midfield, and while the faithful in the stands were doing their best there was, in truth, not a great deal to cheer about.
Five minutes before the break Saints finally had a decent spell of possession, Wasps conceding several penalties which Myler kicked to the right corner.
There were plenty of drives, and a warning to Wasps, and while Sam Dickinson did come within a couple of inches from the line it was not close enough, Edd Shervington putting in a big hit to stop the drive and force a fumble.
It was a seminal moment which meant that Saints went into the break without the much-needed momentum that a try would have brought.
Saints may have not left the 22 with points that time, but they did just that at the start of the second half, and a man to the good, too. Robson’s direct kick to touch handed Saints a lineout on the 22, and when Nathan Hughes infringed on a team warning he saw yellow and Myler landed the penalty.
But this was as close as Saints got for the remainder of the sin bin period, and Wasps not just controlled the possession and territory but also had the chance to nullify Myler’s effort, Gopperth sending a penalty right of the sticks.
There was certainly a bit more to cheer in the third quarter, Gopperth’s miss followed by a good break from Teimana Harrison which exploited a lack of Wasps defenders at a breakdown, and a series of phases which took Saints up to the 22.
By now changes were also being made to try and force the play. But Saints needed a score, and as time ticked along Wasps were able to stay in relative cruise control, hacking the ball upfield whenever it went to ground and force the hosts to play from deep.
And this is how Saints finally got over the whitewash. A quickly tapped penalty on their own 10-metre line saw the ball sent along the line, with Burrell, Tom Collins and James Craig all carrying well before Dickinson crashed over in the left corner.
But it was far too little, too late, and scant, if any, consolation.
SAINTS Mallinder; Elliott, G Pisi, Burrell, Collins; Myler, Kessell; A Waller, Haywood, Brookes, Paterson, Matfield, Wood (capt), Harrison, Dickinson
Subs - Williams, E Waller, Denman, Craig, Day, Dickson, Hanrahan, Wilson
WASPS Miller; Halai, Macken, Downey, Bassett; Gopperth, Robson; McIntyre, Shervington, Cooper-Woolley, Gaskell, Myall, Rieder, Smith (capt), Hughes
Subs - Johnson, Bristow, Swainston, Cannon, Young, Stevenson, Jackson, Tagicakibau
REFEREE Thomas Foley
4mins WASPS Pen Gopperth 0-3
15mins WASPS Try Robson Con Gopperth 0-10
24mins WASPS Try Miller Con Gopperth 0-17
27mins SAINTS Pen Myler 3-17
28mins WASPS Try Bassett Con Gopperth 3-24
HALF-TIME SAINTS 3 WASPS 24
41mins WASPS Yellow card Hughes
42mins SAINTS Pen Myler 6-24
51mins WASPS Miss pen Gopperth
72mins SAINTS Try Dickinson 11-24
FULL-TIME SAINTS 11 WASPS 24