Luton Vipers finished what has been an incredible season by capturing the East RL Division One title on Saturday with a comprehensive 48-17 victory over the King’s Lynn Black Knights at Pennine Way, home of Hemel Stags RL.
The game was played as the curtain raiser before the Premier Final between Bedford Tigers and Hemel Stags, which saw the Stags come away 36-10 victors.
Vipers had started the game slowly, falling 7-0 behind after some strong King’s Lynn running saw them cross under the posts to break the deadlock.
Luton began to play with a bit more pace midway through the half, and after some strong advances from Jake Barnes, Adam Yusuf and Yousef Richards, the opposition’s defensive line became fragile.
With cracks opening up, Vipers ran in four tries courtesy of Jamie Goss, PJ McParland, Jordan Marshall and Ieuan-Rhys Beal, with captain Matt Jones converting two.
As both sides utilised their big runners, Vipers half back pairing Beal and Alex Hill began to take control of proceedings, providing good ball for the likes of Billy Bennett, Goss, Barnes and Richards.
The backs, not phased by the bruising hits of the Kings Lynn pack, came looking for work, and with cannonball centre Callum Strachan eager to add to his tally of tries, his dangerous running opened up space out wide for others to profit.
Half time hasn’t been the Vipers’ best friend this season, with the foot being firmly taken off the gas and Saturday was no different, as Luton leaked two scores within the first five minutes of the half.
This seemed to ignite the Vipers into action once more though, and their interchanges continued to pile the pressure on the King’s Lynn line.
Connor Sibley and Tom Hamlyn Williams both carried strongly, and often two or three defenders in the process.
As the Vipers attack continued to hammer at the King’s Lynn line, their defensive shape began to fail, and the Vipers started scoring from all parts of the field.
Further tries were added by Hill and McParland, while Goss managed a double to complete his hat-trick of scores, with Tyler Pickford also getting in on the act, Jones converting six out of a possible nine.
The Vipers attacked the Kings Lynn line with speed and scored with the final play, showing their ability to cross from anywhere on the park.
With the final whistle came a barrage of emotions, as the club secured their second piece of silverware after also capturing the East RL Vase in July by beating Hemel Stags A 76-10, again at Pennine Way.
Head coach Beal, who leaves the Vipers to return back to Wales shortly, said: “We spoke before the game about weathering the storm, taking a few big shots and then returning the ball with speed and precision.
“Today every part of our game was near perfection, in places we got sloppy but with union season returning some lads have picked up some bad habits.
“We worked hard off the ball and looked to limit our penalty count, then take advantage of their mistakes and punish.
“Every single lad who pulled a Viper shirt on today left everything they had out on the field, and more.
“I could not doubt one player’s passion, and for a club formed in February, that means a lot to me.
“It has been an incredible journey for all, and the blood, sweat and tears have all been worth it.”