Sutton & Epsom will be playing National League rugby next season after sealing the London Division One South title with a 25-18 win at Medway in Kent.

With two games still to play, starting with the visit of Chiswick this weekend, Sutton have an unassailable 14-point lead over Guildford.

Sutton knew they only had to match their nearest rival’s points on the day, but Guildford’s defeat at Sidcup meant it was all irrelevant anyway.

Medway are a highly competent side, but for all their virtues, Sutton were masters where it mattered most, and their hosts simply could not break down Sutton’ s inspiringly committed defence, and when it came to creating and completing threatening attacks they were in a class of their own.

A try-count of four-nil tells its own story, with no-one profiting more than three-try Andy Matthews and, almost inevitably, Matt Whitaker.

The Sutton right-winger pounced for the game’s first try after 17 minutes, having scooped up the ball after some deft footwork near touch, and he then capitalised on a well-timed pass by Sam Hurley in the dying minutes of the first half.

Sutton led by 15-9 at the break, but were repeatedly pegged back by the trusty boot of fly-half Dan Harvey, who potted penalties from far and wide all afternoon.

Going into the last quarter, Medway had drawn level, but the game was won and lost between the 62nd and 66th minutes.

First, Whitaker powered through to restore the lead, and four minutes later Pete Matthews made a searing break which led to his brother’s hat-trick try.

The lead was now 25-15, but any thoughts of Sutton cruising to a comfortable victory were swiftly disabused.

Harvey’s sixth successful penalty reduced the deficit to seven points with eight minutes of normal time remaining, whereupon Medway laid siege to the Sutton line.

And with the referee in card-happy mood, banishing players from both sides for a 10-minute breather – in Sutton’s case, Pete Matthews, Felix Symonds and Paul Hodgson – the Black & Whites had to face the final Medway onslaught with 13 men.

For four long minutes Sutton cut down one punishing assault after another, until the relief of the final whistle.