Jack Wilson’s try proved to be decisive as Saracens withstood a late onslaught from London Wasps to get their LV= Cup campaign off to a winning start.
The result had appeared to have been settled as Wilson’s score in the 55th minute put the visitors 24-7 up, but Wasps were to produce a superb fightback to keep Adams Park on edge.
In the end, Saracens just about managed to hold on for the five points and will look to make it two from two against the Scarlets next week.
The match got off to a cagey opening with Wasps prop Ricky Reeves knocking on the first hint of a try-scoring chance after an attacking line-out.
But the first score did arrive after 16 minutes when the Wasps pack pushed their Saracens counterparts off their own scrum deep inside the visitors’ 22 with Matt Everard going over.
Joe Carlisle converted before Ben Spencer missed the chance to kick Sarries’ first points of the game when he dragged a penalty wide.
The visitors forced their way back in the game on the half-hour as Elliot Daly had to produce a terrific tap-tackle to stop Wilson down the right wing.
However, the ball was quickly moved left to Ben Ransom, who took advantage off some hesitant defending to score, although Spencer missed the conversion.
Saracens then hit the front with the final play of the first half as Nils Mordt put through a well-weighted grubber kick with Nick Tompkins reaching the loose ball before it could go over the dead-ball line.
Spencer added the extras but couldn’t boot his side further in front just after the break as his long-range penalty drifted just wide after Carlisle was penalised for holding on.
But Saracens did stretch clear by adding a third try as prop Richard Barrington bundled his way over after an initial surge from an attacking line-out had been stopped just short.
Spencer’s kick was successful this time and Saracens soon had the bonus point secured as Guy Thompson’s pass intended for Carlisle was picked off by Nick Tompkins.
The centre then sprinted away down the right before playing in Wilson, who managed to out-sprint Josh Bassett to score in the corner.
But a second try for the hosts wasn’t too far away as replacement hooker Neil Cochrane went over as Dai Young’s side refused to buckle.
Wilson was then sent to the sin bin for killing the ball and Wasps set up a rousing finale as Ben Jacobs weaved his way through with eight minutes left with Carlisle’s conversion reducing the gap to three points.
But the hosts couldn’t quite complete the comeback despite keeping the pressure on with Tom Howe just about tackled into touch with the last play.
Be part of the rugby family at the LV=Cup Final at Sandy Park, Exeter on 16 March. Tickets now available www.ticketmaster.co.uk