Rugby League: Ban ends Edwards' cup run

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Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

Shaun Edwards' proud record of playing in every one of Wigan's Challenge Cup ties during the eight seasons when they have made it their personal property is set to end.

The Wigan captain, who has appeared in 42 consecutive ties throughout the successful campaigns stretching back to 1988, was suspended for one match by the disciplinary committee last night, after being cited by Bradford Northern for tackles they said had left their scrum-half, Robbie Paul, with concussion.

Edwards was also fined pounds 150 for what was described as a "reckless high tackle", with an extra pounds 50 fine for another, "careless" high tackle.

The incidents, in the match that clinched Wigan's seventh successive championship 11 days ago, were viewed by the league, who ruled that there was a case to answer.

Edwards will now miss the match against Bramley on Sunday, unless an appeal this morning succeeds. If he remains banned, then Jason Robinson, who has been standing in for him during a recent injury absence, is likely to continue at scrum-half.

Another international half-back, Tony Smith, will miss Castleford's tie against St Helens tomorrow. Smith, who played for England in the Centenary World Cup, has been suspended for one match after being found guilty of throwing a punch at a London Broncos opponent. Smith was not sent off, but was placed on report by the referee, Karl Kirkpatrick.

Although Smith is also to appeal this morning, Castleford may now be tempted to bring in Frano Botica for his first team debut after he came safely through an Alliance game - his first since breaking his leg in the summer - on Tuesday night.

Chorley, one of three clubs warned this week that they will be expelled from the league if their results do not improve, have vowed to fight for their place.

"We are disappointed that the league has made this statement, but we will respond positively by showing that we should be there," said the club's solicitor, Simon Robinson.

Chorley were beaten by the amateur side, Thatto Heath, in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup.

Barrie-Jon Mather yesterday failed in a High Court bid to gain his release from Wigan so he could join the Australian club Perth Western Reds.

The centre, who was placed on the transfer list in November after a contract dispute, walked out claiming they had failed to adhere to his contract, something Wigan have denied.

At a two-hour private hearing, Sir Peter Webster refused to grant Mather a temporary court order requiring Wigan to apply for his release pending a full hearing of the dispute. Mather's lawyers said they were considering an appeal.

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