Ben Foden’s try 90 seconds from time gave the visitors a losing bonus point, but given how they were seemingly in control coming up to the hour mark the single point was scant consolation.
Stephen Myler’s three penalties had put Saints 9-3 up, and had George North been half-a-pace further towards his own line he would have had the game’s first try. However the Welshman was ruled to be in front of Ken Pisi’s delicate chip, and in a game of few chances this proved to be crucial.
Having been rescued, Wasps then took complete control in the space of three minutes. Ashley Johnson’s interception of a Luther Burrell pass was frustrating enough, but when Tom Varndell gathered his own chip to score in the other corner almost immediately from the kick off it created a 14-point swing to the hosts that the Saints would not recover from.
“I don’t think we played badly today, but we weren’t quite accurate enough,” Mallinder told BT Sport. “We worked hard to get to 9-3, and were disappointed that the George North try didn’t stand - I thought it looked pretty good from where I was sitting. And then there were a couple of moments of madness, and you can’t do that against a side like Wasps.
“They were obviously up for the game. It was clearly a massive game for them and they took their opportunities to put us under that pressure.
“We knew they’d be tough and we saw from the first five minutes that they set the tone in defence. They were very organised and spread the field well.
“We’ve said it all along, we’re in a tough league. Every time we’ve played here we’ve had a tough game; last season we won with a last-minute penalty. And any team that pushes Saracens cannot be underestimated.
“We needed to be more accurate and we weren’t. Some of our exits were poor and to give away an interception when you’re 9-3 up is very disappointing. We then gave away a sloppy try from the re-start, and while a lot of credit should go to Wasps we’ll look at ourselves.
“We weren’t accurate enough in a lot of different things and we’ve got plenty to work on.
The full blow-by-blow account of how the action unfolded at Adams Park is available at SaintsLive.co.uk