Talented, young Richmond key defender Noah Balta took a further impressive step in his exciting development at the game’s highest level at Metricon Stadium last night, restricting powerful Geelong spearhead and 2020 Coleman Medal leader Tom Hawkins to only one goal.

Admittedly, Balta had some strong support from experienced star Tiger backmen in Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin, nonetheless, his performance on such a formidable opponent, highlighted just how far he’s progressed this season.

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Otterbox Defensive Acts: Round 17

Watch the best defensive acts from the Round 17 win over Geelong.

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Richmond vice-captain Jack Riewoldt provided an interesting insight into the 20-year-old’s football growth during a post-match interview with Fox Footy.

“He’s really gifted,” Riewoldt said.

“A year ago, we couldn’t find a spot for him . . . we were trying to play him up forward, we were playing him in the ruck. And then, probably out of necessity, he’s ended up playing back, with Dave Astbury going down, as our big, key back down there.

“He’s turned into a fantastic listener. The mental side of the game is where he’s really improved.

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Round 17: Riewoldt pleased with young Tigers

Jack Riewoldt addresses the media following the Round 17 win over Geelong.

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“Physically, he’s always been gifted. He’s got a lot of Alex Rance traits . . . Obviously, ‘Rancey’ was a fantastic player, and if Noah can be half the player Alex was, he’ll be a fantastic player for this football club.

“But his willingness to learn is the one thing that I love about him the most. I try and teach those young key-position players how to play, as a sort of older player, and he’s always listening. And he’s got some great role models down back as well with ‘Grimesy’, Dave Astbury and Nick Vlastuin.”