Sutton & Epsom remain eight points clear at the top of London Division One South thanks to a 22-3 mauling of Brighton at Rugby Lane on Saturday.

The wet and windy conditions on Saturday were in stark contrast to the sunshine when these two sides met in September.

Much has happened since that day, the hosts have climbed to the top of the table whilst the visitors arrived on the back of seven wins in their past eight contests.

That Sutton gained a bonus point victory and prevented Brighton from scoring a try was credit to their teamwork. It was a valuable start to the new year that keeps them eight points to the good in the title race.

Brighton started with greater urgency and fly-half Max Morris combined elusive running, pace and probing kicking to test the Sutton defences all afternoon.

After five minutes they had gained a perfect attacking platform in the 22, and Sutton were forced to concede a penalty that was converted by Tom Derrick to give the Sussex club a deserved 3-0 lead.

Spurred on by the deficit and Brighton losing a man to a yellow card, Sutton stormed back with a forward drive that saw James Bennett force his way over for the opening try.

The home side scored again through Matt Whitaker who picked up from the base of the scrum to sprint into the corner.

It all meant the Rugby Lane crowd relaxed and enjoyed a 10-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Despite having the wind in their favour, the rest of the half was not comfortable viewing for home supporters.

Possession and territory was squandered by conceding penalties, and as half-time approached it was the team from Waterhall that were pressing hard to equalise rather than Sutton looking likely to extend their lead.

Paul Hodgson was given a yellow card as a result of cumulative penalties, and with their numerical advantage Brighton took a quick penalty and seemed destined to score.

However, a long errant pass gifted the ball to Kyren Ghumra who ran in the try from his own 22. Sam Hurley, grateful for a kick in front of the posts rather than on the touchline, converted to give the league leaders a 17-3 advantage at the break.

In many respects the second half followed the script of the previous home game against Medway.

The hosts despite playing into strong wind and intermittent rain showed great defensive tenacity, organisation and knowhow to prevent the Blues adding to their score.

As the half progressed the Black and Whites gained the ascendancy.

Joe Ridgley and Neil Mauger made an impact off the bench, while Mike Blakeburn carried effectively and, despite the wet conditions, the Surrey side looked to run the ball in search of the vital fourth try and the bonus point.

With five minutes left on the clock the hosts produce their best play of the game. Deft handling and and well-timed offloads provided Ghumra the minimum of space he needed to score in the corner.

Despite their valiant efforts Brighton were unable to muster a try before the referee drew to a close this keenly contested match.

The Black and Whites travel to The Mote on Saturday for a 2pm appointment with Maidstone.