Anthony Watson was back in Premiership action on Friday, but Newcastle Falcons' time in the top flight looks to be coming to an end.
Newcastle Falcons could be relegated from the Premiership this weekend after slipping to a 31-17 defeat at home to Northampton Saints.
The Falcons are bottom of the table with two matches remaining, seven points behind 11th-placed Worcester Warriors who also have a game in hand.
Sonatane Takulua opened the scoring for Newcastle with a sixth-minute penalty, but it quickly became apparent that, as has often been the case this season, this was not to be their night.
Tom Collins scored a first-half hat-trick of tries for the Saints and the score stood at a humbling 24-3 at the break in favour of the Saints.
Rodney Ah You and Takulua crossed early in the second period for the Falcons, yet any hopes of a dramatic turnaround were extinguished late on with Alex Mitchell's clinching try.
Newcastle will now have to wait on other results to see if they can still retain their top-flight status. If Leicester Tigers – who sit 10th in the table on 38 points – beat Bristol on Saturday, plus Worcester get the better of Gloucester 24 hours later, the Falcons will be down.
Also on Friday, England international Anthony Watson played 74 minutes for Bath against Sale Sharks on his return after over a year out with an Achilles injury.
However, Watson could not stop Sale from edging a low-scoring affair thanks to AJ MacGinty's pair of penalties.
The match ended 6-3, with Bath's efforts hindered by a late yellow card for Zach Mercer.