A 75th-minute Tom May drop-goal and five Stephen Myler penalties gave Northampton a precious 18-14 away win over Bath at the Rec on Friday.
The home side got off to a flying start with a try in the opening few minutes, Nick Abendanon racing onto a perfectly judged chip through from Tom Biggs to score in the left-hand corner.
Olly Barkley failed with the conversion but he did add a penalty after 10 minutes to stretch Bath's lead and the men from the West Country had the better off the possession and territory in the opening quarter.
Their discipline let them down as the half wore on though and the concession of a series of penalties within kicking range allowed Myler to get Northampton back into the match and even edge them in front by 12-8 at the break.
There wasn't too much free-flowing rugby in the second half either though as the Saints seemed content to grind away and trust the reliable boot of Myler to kick their points and Bath struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities.
Two Barkley penalties to just one from Myler pulled the hosts back to within one point of Jim Mallinder's men and left the game finely poised heading into the final quarter.
And the tension showed as the previously flawless Myler missed with a drop-goal and a penalty and Barkley was unable to give Bath the lead with a three-point attempt of his own.
Tom May, who had come on as a replacement for the injured Ben Foden early in the second half, did succeed with a drop-goal attempt under pressure just a few minutes from time though to seal victory for Northampton.
It may not have been a match full of flair and finesse and sparkling quality but the Saints won't mind one iota as they move to the top of the Aviva Premiership table and hand Bath their first defeat of the season.
Pen: Barkley 3
Pen: Myler 5
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Ben Williams, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Simon Taylor, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Rhys Oakley, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.
Venue: Recreation Ground, Bath
Referee: Andrew Small