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Thompson loving life in the top flight
12:00am Saturday 28th September 2013 in Sport
Newcastle Falcons are once again going toe-to-toe with the Aviva Premiership big boys but hooker Matt Thompson believes their year away from the top flight was not a worthless adventure.
Falcons were relegated in 2012 and forced to regain their top-flight status, which they duly did under the stewardship of Dean Richards.
A rude awakening on their return - a 21-0 home defeat to Bath - was followed by a gritty win at Sale, before Richards' side were brushed aside by Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.
Thompson admitted the intensity of the Premiership may have undone the Falcons but the Championship experience will hold them in good stead for the new campaign.
Ahead of tomorrow afternon's Kingston Park game against Gloucester.
"No-one wants to get relegated but we did and he have to live with that," he said. "I think in many years I will look back on that year as a good learning experience, for me and the team.
"It was interesting - we went to some great places. Jersey was a great experience. We played a very different style of rugby in the Championship. It was very tough and they posed different challenges.
"It bonded the team together really but now we are back in the Premiership and it isn't a victory every week for us. As a rugby player you want to be in the best league to challenge you as a person and a team.
"The 21-0 against Bath wasn't a great first game back. It might have been a bit of a shock - the intensity of the Premiership - but we went down to Sale and really took it to them.
"Our defence really won the game that day - I think we made three times as many tackles as them and ground out a really good victory."
Illness kept Thompson from starting the opener but he made his Premiership return at Sale, before Richards's rotation policy saw Rob Vickers take his No.2 shirt at Leicester, one of a whole host of changes.
But the 30-year-old is enjoying the constant battle for his place and he is not concerned by Newcastle's try-less start to the season - as long as they can grind out a few more wins.
"It is a good squad mentality up here and everyone is fighting for positions - nobody is guaranteed a start every week," he added.
"It wasn't so much a case of resting players, it was more a case of 'right, let's see what the other squad members have to give'. It is not an easy place to go, Welford Road, to show what you have got to give but they did that.
"I don't think the management of the team would care if we don't score a try all season if we won every game.
"We have had opportunities to score tries but teams have been very clever to prevent us from doing that and we have just taken the three points. We are not worried about it."
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