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Milestone Matt happy to see the "buzz" back

Matt Smith believes the away win over Newcastle – and the manner in which Tigers held on to prevent a Falcons comeback – will provide a confidence boost to the squad ahead of the final three fixtures in this season’s Premiership.

“It’s the reason we play the game, that buzz in the changing room after a win and sharing that with your mates,” he said.

“We will take a lot of confidence from this, they are a good team and no mugs at all.

“I think we’ll take more confidence from the way we won it and the way we dug in to hold them off, as a team.”

Smith returned to action after a lengthy stint on the sidelines with a shoulder injury suffered in Leicester’s away game against Racing 92 in Paris in December, which saw the experienced outside back miss 14 matches.

“There’s no thought, from anybody in the squad, that doesn’t care about our performance and you could see that out there"

The comeback doubled as a milestone fixture for the Tigers academy graduate, who made his 150th Premiership appearance when used off the bench in the second half as Falcons pressed the Leicester defence in a bid to steal a late victory.

Before entering the action, the passionate Leicester clubman admitted to being nervous as he watched on from the bench.

“It was very nerve racking watching – I’m not a good supporter, at all,” said the 33 year old.

When asked about reaching the 150 game Premiership milestone, his 225th senior appearance for the club, the team-focused Smith was most pleased about sharing the achievement with Graham Kitchener who also played his 150th match in the competition.

However, admitted he might remember the game for other reasons.

“For me personally, it’s a nice milestone to reach and even nicer to do it alongside such a good friend like Kitch,” Smith said post-match.

“I’ll remember today’s game for a lot of reasons – the win, obviously, and of course because my shoulder didn’t fall off!”

Sitting on the side-line while Tigers have struggled in recent months has been hard for the one-club man, who was quick to address suggestions made in the build up to the Falcons fixture that members of the Leicester squad weren’t bothered by in the dip in form or results on the pitch.

“Every one of the boys is putting their body on the line every week,” said Smith.

“There’s no thought, from anybody in the squad, that doesn’t care about our performance and you could see that out there tonight.”

Looking ahead to the clash with Bristol in a fortnight, Smith added: “It’s all or nothing, every time we take to the pitch to train or play – and will be for when we welcome Bristol to Welford Road and the games that follow.”