15/04/2024
Noah Balta

Noah Balta was dominant on Sunday. Photo: Richmond FC

It's been nine months since Noah Balta ruptured his ACL. Thrown to the other end of the ground this year, the 22-year-old offered the Tigers a glimpse into life after Jack Riewoldt.

It’s been nine months since Noah Balta ruptured his ACL. Thrown to the other end of the ground this year, the 22-year-old offered a glimpse into life after Jack Riewoldt for the Tigers.

The bullocking new-found forward kicked four goals, but it wasn’t just his scoreboard impact that delighted the Tiger Army.

Balta crashed packs up on the wings and led his opponent back to goal, showing off his athleticism to get out the back when Richmond moved the ball swiftly. He clunked everything that came his way – finishing with three contested marks – and looked the most dangerous forward in a group that contains spearhead Tom Lynch.

Balta’s full-chested approach to the contest makes him the ideal forward to kick the ball to for Richmond midfielders, knowing he’ll lead at the leg and hit the ball at full speed.

Against the veteran Phil Davis he was able to gain separation on the lead. Against Connor Idun and Nick Haynes he got the advantage in the airways, and when Sam Taylor made the switch onto him Tom Lynch was able to gain the ascendency in his match-up.

He’s is a nightmare to match-up with because of his all-round capabilities, and Damien Hardwick knows it.

“It was good for Noah to get some reward. I thought he looked really strong in the contest,” Hardwick said post-game.

“He took a number of contested marks or drew free kicks and finished with four goals.

“It was a really positive step for him, we needed him down back last week but even when he swung forward he kicked a couple goals so it’s good to have that up our sleeve at various stages.”

Talls in abundance for Tigers

How will the three-headed forward-line co-exist with the ruck tandem Richmond employs?

Having Nankervis and Soldo means one is often spending time forward. Soldo kicked two goals on Sunday, but with the inclusion of Riewoldt it leaves the Tigers top-heavy.

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In Round 1, they struggled to pressure the football coming out of the Blues’ back half. Having the key position players of Riewoldt, Lynch and Balta along with a resting ruckman might hinder their forward pressure, Hardwick admitted.

“It’s a balancing act. The pressure point of view is really important but – while we haven’t had a lot of forward 50 tackles, what we are doing is we’re winning the ball.

“I think our contested ball in the forward half was plus-one. When you win it it’s hard to tackle in that part of the ground.”

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