Wing Chris Ashton is praised by boss Mark McCall after scoring on his return
Saracens boss Mark McCall praised Chris Ashton after the wing marked his return from a 13-week biting ban with a late try in the 21-6 win over Newcastle.
Ashton, who had not played since the third game of the season, came on as a second half replacement and made an immediate impact.
The 29-year-old, who is joining Toulon at the end of the season, added to an earlier try from Marcelo Bosch while Owen Farrell kicked 11 points.
Director of Rugby McCall said: "It is good to have Chris back in the team and scoring tries. It wasn't the best game for his to come back for but he got his name on the scoresheet.
"His attitude in training has been fine. He's been waiting for this chance to play again and now he's keen to get a couple of starts.
"We now just want to see more of what he's given the club over the last four years."
On the negative side, McCall refused to rule Mako Vunipola out of the Six Nations but he is certainly worried about the prop's hopes of playing again any time soon.
Vunipola has joined brother Billy on the long-term injury list having sustained ligament damage to his left knee during last weekend's European success over Sale.
Both brothers now look certain to miss England's opening fixture against France on February 4.
McCall said: "It's not looking good (for Mako) to be honest. He's got to go and see his consultant in four weeks time and then we will determine how long he will actually be out.
"We have to let the injury settle down as much as possible to have any idea because otherwise you are just guessing.
"It's a big blow to lose Billy and then Mako. Both are such important players or us. We were going to them for the Six Nations but to lose them in the run up to that is so disappointing."
Centre Bosch ran in Saracens' first-half try after Newcastle had led 6-3 with two Joel Hodgson penalties. Falcons had plenty of pressure on the Sarries line but trailed 13-6 at the break but a Farrell penalty and then Ashton's try in the corner from the fly-half's pass sealed victory.
Saracens stayed top of the table, level on points with Wasps.
Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: "We were our own worst enemy.
"We can moan about the referee decisions but we had chances that we didn't take.
"It was disappointing not to get something because we matched them for most of the game."