Challenge awaits Sovereigns

ACU Sovereigns is preparing for a tough encounter with Melbourne University Lightning in its round four Victorian Netball League clash on Wednesday night.

The match against the third-placed Lightning will be the Sovereigns first of two matches in three days.

Division one coach and championship side assistant Kim Bailey rates Lightning highly and expects them to be one of the frontrunners this season.

Sovereigns’ bid of knocking off Melbourne has been done no favours by its current injury concerns – missing a number of key championship players.

It will be without goalers Sacha McDonald and Andrea Tai while it is hopeful former Australian Diamond Renae Ingles will be available by round eight.

While the clash at the State Netball and Hockey Centre will be tough, Bailey expected a competitive display.

“I think their championship team is one of the strongest in the competition,” Bailey said.

“It will be a tough challenge.”

The early-season run of injuries has seen some of the club’s youngsters step up to fill the void and take on a greater role at championship level.

Sacha McDonald, Ally O’Connor and Rene Caris, who all played 19/unders last year, have been shining lights in the early rounds.

DEFENCE: Sovereigns young gun Rene Caris has impressed at championship level this season. Picture: Kate Healy

DEFENCE: Sovereigns young gun Rene Caris has impressed at championship level this season. Picture: Kate Healy

“That shows how strong they are to be elevated up. For the future we’ve got some good kids there, but we’ve just been ravaged by injury.

“If we keep blooding these young kids through champ, it’s looking pretty bright in the future.”