A late, late Ben Foden try saw the Saints snatch the points from a pulsating encounter at Harlequins, closing the gap to the Aviva Premiership’s top four once more in the process.
A brilliant first half of rugby ended with the visitors 20-17 to the good, Christian Day and Luther Burrell with the tries, but Nick Evans snuck Harlequins in front with the boot as the game tightened up after the break.
Even so, some superb rear guard defence kept the Saints in touch and when Ben Botica commited the cardinal sin of missing touch with time up, Foden kept the ball in play and found himself back on the end of an outstanding move to win it.
The visitors had started strongest, too, turning Tito Tebaldi over from the kick off and after a couple of muscular carries each for Luther Burrell and Sam Dickinson, Tom Wood bundled over the whitewash.
While the TMO couldn’t find conclusive evidence to award the try, Saints stayed on the attack and when Quins strayed offside, Stephen Myler knocked over a simple three points.
It was an advantage that lasted just four minutes though as Quins drew first blood in open play. Mobile prop Kyle Sinckler started the move with a break in midfield and a slick exchange thereafter ended with George Merrick wriggling through.
The hit back was almost immediate and while a Myler penalty thumped an upright, it wasn’t long before the Saints went to the front again. Spotting the opportunity to play on halfway, the visitors moved it quickly to Burrell, the centre’s arcing break and one-handed offload putting Ken Pisi through, who in turn sent Day under the sticks.
If Burrell’s offload was brilliant, Tebaldi’s was every bit as good as the game continued at an incredible pace. The scrum-half’s cheeky flick out the back door put Ross Chisholm away and the lead changed hands for the fourth time in the opening half hour.
That soon became five, Burrell this time coasting over on the right after midfield partner Harry Mallinder wriggled loose from the home defence and drew the last man, Myler sticking on the extras through a tricky breeze.
Surprisingly, there was to be no further score before the break, but the pointless period would only last for three minutes of the second half, Evans guiding over a scrum penalty to take things back as they started.
The hosts may have resumed a man down, but they had the benefit of a strong wind at their backs and moments before Tebaldi brought them back to a full compliment, Evans punished Jamie Gibson’s deliberate knock on with three more points from the tee.
They could have gone further ahead too, Tebaldi and Harry Sloan both knocking on with the line beckoning, but intense defensive pressure from the Saints saw them hold out.
Tensions were starting to rise though and with the free-scoring nature of the game stemmed, Quins went to their driving lineout in an attempt to take the game away from their visitors. It almost worked, Tom Wood seeing yellow for halting the first drive, but when a second disintegrated, the ball was held up by grey shirts.
Saints won a scrum, then a penalty, and thanks to Lee Dickson’s awareness a quick tap saw them sweep from one 22 to the other, where JJ Hanrahan stuck another penalty into the corner.
Quins’ indiscretions continued to rack up and under the sticks, Hanrahan had the simple task of making it an even ball game for a third and final time.
Botica stepped up to almost immediately put Quins back three points to the good and while Saints went to the corner with a minute to go, the home side clung on inches from their own line.
That should have been that, but following a solid scrum and with his pick of the stands to boot the ball into, Botica remarkably failed to end the game and Saints took advantage to the fullest.
3mins SAINTS Pen Myler 0-3
7mins QUINS Try Merrick Con Evans 7-3
9mins SAINTS Miss pen Myler
13mins SAINTS Try Day Con Myler 7-10
24mins QUINS Try Chisholm Con Evans 14-10
30mins SAINTS Try Burrell Con Myler 14-17
39mins QUINS Yellow Tebaldi
HALF-TIME QUINS 14 SAINTS 17
43mins QUINS Pen Evans 17-17
48mins QUINS Pen Evans 20-17
66mins SAINTS Yellow Wood
71mins SAINTS Pen Hanrahan 20-20
73mins QUINS Pen Botica 23-20
80+2mins SAINTS Try Foden Con Hanrahan 23-27
QUINS Chisholm; Yarde, Hopper, Sloan, Walker; Evans (capt), Tebaldi; Lambert, Buchanan, Sinckler, Merrick, Horwill, Luamanu, Wallace, Easter
Gray, Evans, Collier, Matthews, Ward, Waters, Botica, Swiel
SAINTS Foden; K Pisi, Burrell, Mallinder, Elliott; Myler, Dickson (capt); A Waller, Haywood, Brookes, Craig, Day, Gibson, Wood, Dickinson
Marshall, E Waller, Denman, Matfield, Harrison, Kessell, Hanrahan, Wilson
REFEREE Greg Garner