Saints were pipped to the post in an epic Aviva Premiership encounter at the Ricoh Arena, Wasps scoring with the final play of the game to steal a win that both sides staked valid claims for.
The teams shared nine tries, the visitors scoring five of them as they collected two match points themselves, but it was Wasps who ended with full marks after a relentless finish to the game finally cracked a brave Saints resolve.
Saints were almost in after just a minute, Harry Mallinder twice kicking superbly and ripping Elliot Daly of the ball in between. While the bounce of the ball on his second punt evaded the onrushing Ben Foden, Wasps struggled to fully clear their lines and Stephen Myler opened the scoring from the tee at the second time of asking.
While it was Wasps’ turn to look menacing next, with men over emerging on their left the pass went too early and this time Foden had his score, reading the play brilliantly to outrun Elliot Daly for the corner.
When the hosts hit back though, it was the England centre showing his pace and running ability to go under the posts as Wasps made good of a penalty, despite Ashley Johnson appearing to punch Louis Picamoles on the ground. Gopperth converted Daly’s try to bring Wasps back within a point.
The game was alive and when Nafi Tuitavake wriggled free of tacklers on halfway, the Saints were back inside the home 22 in a flash. Louis Picamoles’ offload took Tom Wood close and with advantage being played, the visitors bided their time before putting Alex Waller over in the corner unopposed.
There was still plenty of Wasps menace in the air and the home side were soon level when Gopperth clipped over a pair of penalties, but Saints continued to do their scoring with ball in hand.
Ace Tuala surged free and up field, Saints kept their patience and this time George North was the beneficiary, riding a high tackle from Josh Bassett to crash his side back in front just moments before the interval.
It was Wasps, however, scoring moments after the resumption thanks in large part to Ashley Johnson's barnstorming break through the middle. While Saints scrambled well, Christian Wade produced a fine piece of individual skill, chasing down his own chip at break neck speed.
Gopperth converted to put the home side in front for the first time, Wasps seemingly having found their spark with Kurtley Beale and then Daly exciting the Ricoh Arena with slicing runs. The latter put Wasps in a great position and while a mammoth spell of defence from the Saints kept the home forwards at bay, Joe Simpson sniped over.
It looked as though the game and Wasps had turned a corner, but Saints kept their calm and almost levelled things up with a battering of the try line. David Ribbans was held up, but a simple move from the five-metre scrum was brilliantly effective, Tuala unmarked as he chalked up the try bonus for the visitors.
While the conversion to bring things level drifted wide, Saints were soon back pressing, Lee Dickson's slick service opening doors, one of which Api Ratuniyarawa sent Teimana Harrison flying through for the Saints' fifth of the afternoon.
It was almost immediately cancelled out when Willie Le Roux dove over back up the other end, but Joe Launchbury's block on Luther Burrell had opened up space for the score and the TMO's intervention rightfully handed Saints a reprieve.
Another followed when Tom Cruse overthrew a five-metre lineout but things continued to look ominous as Wasps refused to go away. A series of penalties went to the corner and while the mauls were sacked, they were by illegal means.
Jamie Gibson saw yellow, Wasps tapped a went with the clock red and a sea of black and gold shirts carried Paul Doran Jones over, Gopperth left with the simple task of firing over the match winning conversion from straight in front.
5mins SAINTS Miss pen Myler
9mins SAINTS Pen Myler 0-3
13mins SAINTS Try Foden 0-8
17mins WASPS Try Daly Con Gopperth 7-8
24mins SAINTS Try Waller 7-13
28mins WASPS Pen Gopperth 10-13
32mins WASPS Pen Gopperth 13-13
37mins WASPS Miss pen Gopperth
39mins SAINTS Try North 13-18
HALF-TIME WASPS 13 SAINTS 18
44mins WASPS Try Wade Con Gopperth 20-18
52mins WASPS Try Simpson 25-18
60mins SAINTS Try Tuala 25-23
64mins SAINTS Try Harrison Con Myler 25-30
80mins WASPS Try Doran Jones Con Gopperth 32-30
FULL-TIME WASPS SAINTS
Le Roux; Wade, Daly, Beale, Bassett; Gopperth, Simpson; Mullan, Taylor, Swainston, Launchbury (capt), Myall, Johnson, Young, Thomspon
Cruse, Bristow, Doran Jones, Symons, Hughes, Robson, Cipriani, Leila
Tuala; North, Tuitavake, Mallinder, Foden; Myler, Groom; A Waller, Hartley, Brookes, Lawes, Ribbans, Gibson, Wood (capt), Picamoles
Haywood, E Waller, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Harrison, Dickson, Burrell, K Pisi