NIKAU Williams has received a four match ban from the RFL after being found guilty of a Grade E Dangerous Contact charge during York Knights' Betfred Championship opening day defeat at Doncaster.

The New Zealand playmaker has also been handed a £375 fine.

As a result of the incident, Doncaster's Alex Sutcliffe is expected to miss three months of the season after undergoing surgery on a broken jaw.

Williams pleaded guilty to the charge, which carries with it a four to six match ban, but challenged its grading at tribunal.

At tribunal, Knights head coach Andrew Henderson explained that he believed that the half-back had dropped his height by bending at the waist and the knees, and that Sutcliffe had also leaned into the contact, therefore reducing his own height.

He also noted that Williams kept his arms by his side at all times, with contact first made to Sutcliffe's chest before rising to make secondary contact with his head.

Henderson felt that there was poor-quality footage of the tackle, a poor angle from which the footage was shot, and that it did not show contact with the head. There was also no reaction from any of the match officials at the time, nor a major reaction from Doncaster.

Williams admitted that at no stage did he intend to cause harm to Sutcliffe.

The RFL Match Review Tribunal agreed that there had been no mitigating factors involved in the tackle, but did not feel that Williams had made any attempt to lower his height, and that his left shoulder had connected with Sutcliffe's head.

They did not believe that the grading should be lowered, but taking into consideration Williams' previous good record, they ruled a four-match ban was appropriate.

He will now miss Sunday's home Championship opener against Toulouse Olympique, trips to both Barrow Raiders and title favourites Wakefield Trinity, and a repeat of last season's Play-off Eliminator against Bradford Bulls at the LNER Community Stadium.

Whilst centre Jesse Dee is available for Sunday's clash after his sin-bin against Sheffield Eagles in the Betfred Challenge Cup earlier this month, loose forward Jordan Thompson and full-back Will Dagger will serve the final match of their respective suspensions.