No happy homecoming for Saints fans as Bordeaux snatch dramatic win
Saints suffered yet more late heartache as Santiago Cordero snatched a dramatic try to earn a 16-12 Champions Cup win for Bordeaux-Bègles.
It was woe for the fans who had returned to Franklin's Gardens for the first time since February as Cordero reacted quickest to a penalty that came back off the post.
It was so cruel for Saints, who had lost to the last kick of the game at Bristol Bears on the previous weekend.
And this was perhaps even harder to take, given the control Saints seemed to have for so long, having not been behind at all until Cordero pounced.
Dan Biggar's four penalties looked to be enough for scrapping Saints but after conceding a scrum penalty late on, the door opened for Cordero after Matthieu Jalibert hit the post.
It meant Saints' shocking run of defeats extended to 11 matches, and they have now lost 16 of their past 18 in all competitions.
But it had all seemed to be going their way early on as, roared on by their fans, Saints started with a real swagger.
The likes of Biggar and Rory Hutchinson were pulling the strings in some rapid black, green and gold movement.
It forced Bordeaux to concede a penalty, which Biggar landed to put his team in the lead.
Biggar tried to open the game up soon after, but his crossfield kick fell into Bordeaux hands and it took a fantastic recovery tackle from Nick Isiekwe to halt French progress out wide.
Saints were in confident mood and they doubled their lead when Hutchinson won a breakdown penalty, which Biggar booted between the posts.
There were chances to build more possession in Bordeaux territory but a couple of lineouts went astray and the away side then bagged a penalty, which was missed by some distance by Ben Botica.
The tide was starting to turn and Botica made amends for his miss soon after as he landed a penalty from a much easier position.
But Biggar responded from the tee as Bordeaux were given a warning for the amount of penalties they were conceding.
It was so much better from Saints as they were playing with real belief, with the offloads returning and taking them so close to the line before they were stopped at the last.
But Bordeaux threatened to hit them with a sucker punch when, with a penalty coming, Cordero slalomed his way towards the line before a poor pass forced a knock-on from Mahamadou Diaby.
But Botica slotted the penalty and he was presented with one final chance before the break as Saints lost the scrum against the head and found themselves level at half-time.
Saints were soon back in front at the start of the second half though as Biggar made it four from four from the tee.
The hosts were threatening to open up the opposition when George Furbank was flying towards the line, but again Bordeaux scrambled to stop the score.
However, the men in white were completely under the cosh and finally referee Whitehouse showed a yellow card, with Cameron Woki the man paying the price for his side's persistent offending.
Saints had a huge chance to capitalise when they kicked to the corner, but Bordeaux won the battle as they earned a crucial penalty to relieve the pressure.
Woki returned to the field without any damage having been done to his team as Saints continued to huff and puff.
But Bordeaux were hit with another yellow card just as they were lining up a lienout deep in Saints territory.
The referee went to the TMO after Courtney Lawes was incensed with an incident at the breakdown, and Bordeaux scrum-half Maxime Lucu was yellow carded for stamping on the arm of Lawes.
It not only allowed Saints to enjoy a man advantage but they were also allowed to escape from a potentially dangerous situation.
But Saints were struggling with their lineout, continually losing possession in key areas of the field at key times.
And they were made to pay in the cruelest fashion possible as Jalibert hit the post with a penalty from a scrum and Cordero reacted quickest to score.
Jalibert converted and Bordeaux had snatched a 16-12 lead with six minutes to go.
The French side thought they had scored again almost immediately as Woki got the ball down in the corner, but Hutchinson had done just enough to put the flanker in touch.
It didn't matter though as Bordeaux held out on halfway and celebrated a hard-fought away success.
Saints: Furbank; Tuala, Proctor (Dingwall 64), Hutchinson, Naiyaravoro (Olowofela 67); Biggar, Mitchell (Taylor 67); Auterac (van Wyk 50), Matavesi (Fish 50), Franks (Hill 50); Ribbans, Isiekwe (Ratuniyarawa 71); Lawes, Wood (c), Adendorff (Tonks (74).
Bordeaux-Bègles: Buros; Cordero, Moefana, Lamerat (Uberti 60), Lam; Botica (Jalibert 54), Lucu (Gimbert 74); Paiva (Maynadier 64), Lamothe (Kaulashvili 54), Cobilas (Tameifuna 48); Petti (Marais 35), Cazeaux; Woki, Diaby (c), Higginbotham (Tauleigne 60).
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)