Sione Mata’utia to miss Challenge Cup final after failing appeal

St Helens forward Sione Mata’utia will miss Saturday’s Challenge Cup final against Castleford after winning only one of his appeals against two one-match bans.

Mata’utia, who is in his first season in Super League, was charged by the Rugby Football League’s match review panel with two separate Grade B offences during Saints’ 30-14 win over Wakefield last Friday and handed a one-match penalty notice for each one.

The 25-year-old Australia and Samoa international was successful in having a dangerous contact charge downgraded but failed to overturn a one-match ban for a high tackle.

It means that Mata’utia, who was joined at the hearing by an independent tribunal by coach Kristian Woolf, will miss out on a duel with older brother Peter, the Castleford centre, at Wembley.

Meanwhile, St Helens skipper James Roby says it will be a refreshing change to play in front of 45,000 fans in the Challenge Cup final this weekend, with the game at Wembley being a pilot event.

The reigning Super League champions take on Castleford in the Challenge Cup final on Saturday, with the match being designated by the Government as a pilot event in the battle with Covid-19, so 45,000 fans will be allowed to attend.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Roby said. “It’s been great just getting the 4,000 we’ve been allowed here at the stadium, but to go down to Wembley and play in front of 10 times that, it will be such a refreshing change.

“It’s going to be brilliant for us as players and we’ll really feed off the atmosphere.”

As for Castleford, coach Daryl Powell will draw on his club’s history in the Challenge Cup and the magic of Wembley to get his his side in the right mood for this weekend’s showdown with St Helens.

Castleford coach Daryl Powell

It is 35 years since Castleford enjoyed the last of their four Cup final triumphs and Powell, who will join Super League rivals Warrington at the end of the season, says victory on Saturday would provide a fairytale finish to his eight-time reign at his hometown club.

Powell was a player with Sheffield Eagles in 1986 but he went down to Wembley as a Castleford supporter to watch them beat Hull KR 15-14 and he has invited two survivors from that team to address his players before they set off for London on Thursday.

Powell said: “If I could have said right at the start of the year what could be the most special thing that could happen this year it would be winning the Challenge Cup.

“It’s an iconic competition, it’s iconic in Castleford’s history. We look back at 35, 69, 70 and 86 and we want to leave our own legacy. For me it would be super special, I can’t put into words quite how much that would mean.

“We want to be able to help our supporters remember it forever and you remember it forever if you win it.

“Wembley is embedded in the sporting psyche and history of the club. You look at last night and the England game, Wembley means something completely different to people.

“It’s such a special time for fans, walking down Wembley, it’s a feeling like nothing else. It’s just unbelievable as a sporting showpiece.”

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