Northampton Saints closed the gap at the top of the table to two points with a hard fought 14-9 victory over Wasps at Franklin's Gardens.
Stephen Myler came off the bench to seal the win as his six points from a drop goal and penalty in the last ten minutes clinched the victory at the end of a hard fought encounter. Wasps played well, but ultimately they failed to take their chances and they had to head home with just a bonus point for comfort.
They remain in fourth, twelve points behind the Saints and having played a game more than all of their play-off rivals. Northampton, however, showed no hangover from their Anglo-Welsh Cup win last weekend and are now honing in on a home semi-final after they completed their 21st home game without defeat.
Bruce Reihana put the hosts in front after eight minutes of the first-half, but it was Wasps who were on top of the error prone Saints early on and Danny Cipriani kicked two penalties to put his side in the ascendancy 27 minutes in.
But they couldn't make their possession pay, and were punished by the clinical Northampton men with two minutes remaining in the opening half. There was more than a hint of crossing for the score, as James Downey appeared to block Tom Varndell's efforts to get to Roger Wilson.
But no whistle was heard, and the former Ulster No.8 stepped inside the England wing to score. The try was created initially by great work from Shane Geraghty who beat Joe Worsley before feeding Chris Ashton. Props Brian Mujati and Soane Tonga'uiha battered the line, before Reihana's neat pass put Wilson away in the corner.
Substitute Dave Walder edged the Londoners back in front after the break before Cipriani played Tim Payne in only for the prop to knock-on, and a brilliant Neil Best tackle denied Paul Sackey short of the line on 54 minutes. Varndell's speed took him into space and his offload to Sackey appeared to have put the winger in, but Best came from nowhere to make the tackle, get to his feet and create the steal for Downey to clear.
Cipriani did touch the ball down, only to be called back for a Sackey forward pass as Mallinder brought Myler off the bench with sixteen minutes remaining and the youngster showed his class with a snap drop-goal, before holding his nerve to nail the crucial penalty.