An hour of fine rugby from the Saints came crashing down as champions Saracens came from nowhere to provide a bitter sting in the tail at Stadium MK.
The hosts were well in control on the field and the scoreboard after tries for Harry Mallinder, Dylan Hartley and Ken Pisi but with Alex Lozowski chipping away from the tee throughout the game, Saracens remained in touch and swept to victory with 15 points in the final 11 minutes.
Up until that point there had been only one side threatening the try line. Saints absorbed the early Saracens probes and made good of their own first foray into enemy territory, Louis Picamoles slipping Luther Burrell through on halfway. Ken Pisi rose emphatically above Alex Goode when Stephen Myler put it skyward and despite taking a tumble, had the presence of mind to pop up for Harry Mallinder, who rode a last-gasp tackle to slide over.
Myler converted and then clipped a penalty into the corner as the hosts looked to harness their momentum, twice going close before Stephen Myler stepped up to guide over three points when Duncan Taylor killed an attack and saw yellow for his troubles.
Down to 14 Saracens might have been, but they were next to go close when Nathan Earle was superbly dragged into touch by Ben Foden five-metres out, Lozowski providing some consolation with a penalty, the first of his 17 points for the day.
The Saracens pivot would also cancel out Myler’s second effort when Taylor returned to the fold to keep just a single score in it and though Saints would continue to have the better of things, that’s the way it would stay until half-time, not that the break would stem the hosts’ flow.
Mallinder’s kick off was soon stolen back and when the fly half sent a penalty to the corner, the forwards smashed a hole through which Dylan Hartley bulldozed to slam down the Saints’ second.
A couple of Lozowski pens saw Saracens briefly claw back the deficit, but a piece of individual brilliance from Ace Tuala again unlocked the red door. When things got scrappy outside the visitors' 22, it was the Saints who took a grip on possession and the Samoan's injection of pace and stunning inside flick put Pisi over in the corner.
Three tries to the good, the game still needed some closing out and with the next score so important, Chris Ashton dotted down in the corner as Saracens finally found some field position. The conversion went astray, but the game crucially had it's turning point when Ben Foden appeared to be tackled off the ball, only for the referee to stick with his initial decision following an eventual TMO check.
Saracens upgraded the resulting scrum into a penalty, which Lozowski duly converted to make it a one score game yet again and Marcelo Bosch tied things up after a mazy run from his fly half cut Saints open on turnover ball.
Man of the Match Lozowski stepped up to the tee to fittingly knock over the match winning points and deny Saints at the death for the third Aviva Premiership fixture running.
7mins SAINTS Try Mallinder Con Myler 7-0
17mins SARACENS Yellow Taylor
18mins SAINTS Pen Myler 10-0
23mins SARACENS Pen Lozowski 10-3
29mins SAINTS Pen Myler 13-3
33mins SARACENS Pen Lozowski 13-6
39mins SAINTS Miss pen Mallinder
HALF-TIME SAINTS 13-6 SARACENS
42mins SAINTS Try Hartley Con Mallinder 20-6
44mins SARACENS Pen Lozowski 20-9
54mins SAINTS Try K Pisi 25-12
69mins SARACENS Try Ashton 25-17
75mins SARACENS Pen Lozowski 25-20
78mins SARACENS Try Bosch Con Lozowski 25-27
FULL-TIME SAINTS 25-27 SARACENS
Tuala; K Pisi, Burrell, Mallinder, Foden; Myler, Groom; A Waller, Hartley, Brookes, Lawes, Ribbans, Gibson, Wood (capt), Picamoles
Haywood, E Waller, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Harrison, Dickson, Hutchinson, Estelles
Goode; Earle, Bosch, Taylor, Maitland; Lozowski, Spencer; Lamositele, George (capt), Koch, Isiekwe, Kruis, Conlon, Burger, Wray
Brits, Thompson-Stringer, Du Plessis, Rhodes, B Vunipola, Taylor, Tompkins, Ashton