Alex Goode kicked seven penalties as second-placed Saracens secured their first ever victory at Adams Park as Wasps had three players sin-binned.
Saracens got the only try of the game through Andy Saull after four minutes, before four penalties from Dave Walder sent Wasps in at half-time with a scarcely-deserved one-point advantage. But the hosts could muster just one more penalty after the break as the boot of Sarries full-back Goode and their own indiscipline took the game away from them.
Saracens, beaten on their other seven visits to the ground, got the best possible start with a fourth-minute try from Saull. Centre Brad Barritt ran well to get under Owen Farrell’s high kick before offloading to send fellow England Saxon Saull charging over in the left-hand corner.
Wasps suffered another blow a minute later when lock Marty Veale was yellow-carded by referee Greg Garner. Veale was punished for his retaliation after sparking a mass punch-up when Wasps’ Samoan winger David Lemi was the victim of a high tackle by Hayden Smith. While Veale took the blame, United States second row man Smith appeared fortunate not to join him in the bin for the original offence.
Goode, who had missed the difficult conversion following Saull’s try, stretched the Saracens’ lead to 11-0 in the opening 14 minutes after Wasps were twice penalised at the breakdown. But Wasps responded well to haul themselves back into the game, capitalising when Sarries fell foul of referee Garner.
Fly-half Walder landed four penalties – two awarded at rucks in the space of four minutes, one for offside and the fourth for a scrum offence in the final minute of the first half – to send Wasps in at the interval with a 12-11 lead, much against the run of play.
They almost gifted Saracens a second try when number eight Ernst Joubert was left in acres of space to collect another up-and-under from Farrell. But Lemi rescued the situation with a fine cover tackle on the South African. Saracens hooker Schalk Brits escaped punishment for a late tackle on Joe Simpson which denied the Wasps scrum-half the opportunity to chase his own kick down the right touchline.
Saracens edged back in front three minutes into the second half with Goode’s third penalty. It took Walder only a minute to respond with a superbly-struck 50-metre penalty but the lead was short lived as Goode landed his fourth from close range after 48 minutes.
Sarries took a grip on the game with Goode’s fifth penalty in the 54th minute. Wasps then suffered their second yellow card when England prop Tim Payne was judged to have taken out Sarries’ replacement lock Mouritz Botha in the air at a lineout.
Saracens capitalised on the extra-man advantage in the 60th minute when Goode struck his sixth penalty after Wasps were caught offside near their own line.
Wasps were reduced to 13 men when John Hart was shown their third yellow card in the 66th minute, with the referee signalling that the flanker had kicked the ball out of the hands of visiting full-back Chris Wyles. But Hart looked distinctly unfortunate with TV replays showing no contact as the ball slipped from Wyles’ grasp as he went to ground.
That did not affect Goode who kicked his seventh penalty to extend the lead to 26-15 and Saracens withstood a later forward assault as the home side tried in vain to salvage a losing bonus point.