His form was in stark contrast to last season when he crossed the whitewash six times in the Championship, twice against Wales and four times against Italy.
In Sunday's 57-26 win over the Barbarians, Ashton and wing partner Christian Wade contributed four tries together.
While Wade's solitary effort, in his first appearance in the senior England side, caught the eye it was the triplet of scores from the former rugby league player which will have pleased head coach Stuart Lancaster the most.
Ashton's re-found ability to sniff out the line will be sorely needed on the hard grounds in South Africa if England are to keep pace with the 2007 World Champions, who boast the likes of try-machine Bryan Habana in their backs.
The first Test is in Durban on June 9 with further games coming on the 16th in Johannesburg and on the 23rd in Port Elizabeth as well as two midweek matches.
"I'm feeling confident again," said Ashton.
"The team is a bit more settled and it was pretty much the Six Nations back line out there (against the Barbarians).
"We knew the game would be open, we moved the ball and I thought we looked pretty good doing it."