Barren second half costs Saints as they are beaten by Wasps
Saints started 2019 on the wrong foot as they were beaten 27-16 by Wasps at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Having finished 2018 with the flourish of back-to-back Gallagher Premiership wins against Worcester and Exeter, Chris Boyd's side were well below par in Coventry.
And Wasps took advantage, ending their own five-match losing streak in all competitions to get the win they so desperately wanted.
Saints competed well during the first half, with Fraser Dingwall's second try in as many weeks and 11 points from the metronomic Dan Biggar keeping them in contention.
But Wasps were totally dominant after half-time, stretching their one-point lead thanks to a Willie Le Roux try and the kicking of Lima Sopoaga.
Saints didn't manage a single point during the second 40 minutes and, one late Luther Burrell opportunity aside, they rarely looked likely to register after the break.
They lacked security when in possession and defensive errors cost them dear in the end as they left the Ricoh Arena with nothing.
Saints had dominated the opening stages of the game, kicking off and keeping Wasps in their own half.
It took almost seven minutes for the home side to enter Saints territory and when they did it was only a brief stay as Boyd's men soon got back on the front foot.
However, after huffing and puffing but failing to put any points on the board, Saints were made to pay as Wasps pounced.
Having kicked a penalty to the corner, they used the possession well as the ball was moved wide to Josh Bassett, who found space outside of Taqele Naiyaravoro to score.
Sopoaga added the extras and his side led 7-0 with 20 minutes gone, but Biggar quickly responded with a penalty.
Wasps soon had their second try though as Juan de Jongh kicked ahead and just nipped in ahead of Ahsee Tuala to gather the bouncing ball and then score.
Sopoaga converted and Wasps had scored 14 points without being really made to work for them.
However, Wasps were about to concede a cheap try of their own as Cobus Reinach picked the ball up from a scrum and sent Dingwall through a gap to score.
It was the second week in succession that the young centre had grabbed a try, and Biggar converted to cut the gap to four points.
But after Saints were penalised at the breakdown, Sopoaga stretched the Wasps lead to seven from the tee.
In a nip and tuck game, Saints soon responded, with slick combination play between Tom Collins, Reinach and Tom Wood helping to earn a penalty, which Biggar kicked.
And Biggar shrugged off the boos as he bisected the posts again just before the break with a monster penalty from just inside the Wasps half.
That left the gap at a single point at half-time, but Wasps came out of the blocks quickest in the second half, pushing Saints back and applying the pressure.
The home side thought they had scored when Thomas Young touched down, but his effort was ruled out after referee Luke Pearce went to the TMO and spotted a tackle off the ball on Lewis Ludlam by Nizaam Carr.
Elliot Daly then left a penalty attempt from inside his own half well short of the posts, giving Saints another welcome reprieve.
But it wasn't long before the hosts had the try their second-half efforts merited as Saints were far too casual behind their own try line, with Reinach and Tuala trying to offload, allowing Wasps to win the ball back and send South African full-back Le Roux over for a crucial score.
From the replays, it looked like Reinach may have grounded the ball before eventually offloading, but the try stood and with Sopoaga slotting the conversion, Wasps held a 24-16 lead with 25 minutes of a scrappy match remaining.
Saints made several changes but it didn't alter the pattern of play as Wasps continued to pour forward, earning another three points via the boot of Sopoaga.
Nothing was coming off for Saints as even when they ventured into the Wasps half, their handling wasn't good enough, allowing the men in black and yellow to get out.
Burrell did almost score before the end, swivelling under the posts before just losing his grip on the ball before being able to ground it.
And Wasps won a penalty at the resulting scrum before eventually winning the lineout and booting the ball out to confirm the victory.
Wasps: Le Roux; Bassett, Campagnaro (Lovobalavu 77), De Jongh, Daly; Sopoaga, Robson; Zhvania (B Harris 67), Cruse, Cooper-Woolley (Stuart 67); Launchbury (c), Rowlands (Myall 70); Shields, Young, Carr (Hughes 54).
Saints: Tuala; Collins (Kellaway 56), Dingwall, Burrell, Naiyaravoro; Biggar (Grayson 75), Reinach (Mitchell 62); van Wyk (Waller 61), Marshall (Fish 61), Painter (Franks 61); Ribbans (Ratuniyarawa 56), Lawes; Wood (c), Ludlam (Brüssow 56), Harrison.
Referee: Luke Pearce