Despite scoring the only try of the game through Christian Day, and having another ruled out, Saints found themselves a point down going into the final 90 seconds after Joe Carlisle landed a three-pointer from the visitors’ 22.
Saints had been on the back foot for the majority of the second half, but when the visitors won a penalty against the head with just over a minute to play Stephen Myler held his nerve to slot the winning score.
Although Saints had been on the wrong end of three significant TMO decisions – Luther Burrell’s early score being brought back for a marginal call in favour of Wasps, Tom Wood seeing yellow at a breakdown, and Lee Dickson penalised for a dangerous tackle – the final result was somewhat harsh on Wasps, who put in an increasingly powerful performance to put Saints under pressure, something Mallinder acknowledged in his post-match comments.
“We wanted to play rugby,” the Saints boss told BBC Radio Northampton, “but the weather was poor and didn’t really allow us to do that. But Wasps did their bit to stop us, too.
“They played well. They were good at the breakdown and very sensible in their kicking game, with both fly halves putting us in the corner and under a lot of pressure.
For our part we were a little bit inaccurate in getting out of our half. In the second half I would have wanted us to play for a bit more field position and put pressure on them, because when you get to 70 minutes and later you start coming down to a 50/50, a bounce of a ball, or a referee’s decision.”
And referee Matthew Carley had two big says in the final 120 seconds, firstly by awarding a penalty to Wasps after Dickson had upended Tom Palmer, and then by giving Myler the opportunity to win the game at the death.
Carlisle’s previous effort had raised Adams Park to the rafters, but with just over a minute to play Mallinder knew that something else was possible, adding: “It was a great kick.
“We had been disappointed to get a penalty against us, but we know that things can happen in that last minute so there’s always a chance.”
Saints now return home for the festive season for two big games against Bath and Harlequins. The Bath game is sold out, but you can still snap up some of the final few hundred tickets for Saints v Harlequins on Friday, January 3rd by CLICKING HERE and following the straightforward instructions!