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Young combo delivering

Highlights | Carlton v Hawthorn The Blues and Hawks clash in round 18.

CARLTON’s top-10 pairing from the 2017 NAB AFL Draft are continuing to show signs which will excite Blues fans for years to come.

Former Bendigo Pioneers and Vic Country teammates Paddy Dow and Lochie O’Brien arrived at Ikon Park in November last year, separated by only seven picks.

And it’s their performances alongside the likes of fellow youngsters Zac Fisher and Sam Petrevski-Seton which will have Bluebaggers bullish about their respective and collective futures.

In a debut year which brought about a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in Round 14, Dow’s reputation as a contested-ball specialist throughout his junior years has translated to AFL football.

After 18 rounds, Dow ranks No.1 for clearances among players eligible for the Rising Star award ahead of second-year Swan, Oliver Florent.

He also ranks third in contested possessions and total inside 50s, fifth for total tackles and in the top 10 for total disposals.

Paddy Dow has shown his prowess in clearances during his debut season. (Photo: AFL Media)

Meanwhile, his fellow draftee O’Brien seems to be improving with every match he plays.

In the last three weeks, he has averaged 17.7 disposals per game - his output has increased by five disposals per game after being managed in Round 15.

After achieving a season-high tally of 19 disposals against St. Kilda, O’Brien backed it up with 18 disposals at 94.4 percent efficiency on Sunday. He also recorded the third-highest metres gained of any Blue, behind captain Marc Murphy and Jarrod Pickett. 

Lochie O'Brien is showing improvement in every game. (Photo: AFL Media)

As Carlton’s injury toll mounts, the exposure the Blues’ younger players will get in the coming weeks will be crucial in their future development.

Across AFL and VFL level at the weekend, the Blues had 30 available players - Dow and O’Brien made up two of 15 who were aged 21 or under. 

Additionally, the duo are two of just a dozen Carlton players to play 13 or more games so far this season.

Dow has missed only one game after being rested in Round 16, while O’Brien has similarly sat out that one solitary game Port Adelaide since making his senior debut.

The Club’s faith in the top-10 pairing was displayed with their contract re-signings early in the year. They were joined by Tom De Koning from last year’s draft class after the young tall signed a two-year contract extension.