Wing lifts Dark Blues
Wing Ross Jennings steered Oxford to a second successive Varsity Match victory as they retained the Bowring Bowl at rainswept Twickenham. The Berkshire-born Modern History student claimed a try double, his second touchdown finally breaking Cambridge's spirited resistance eight minutes from time.
Outhalf Seb FitzGerald chipped in with three penalties, giving his team vital breathing space.
It was Oxford's 50th win of a series stretching back to 1871, but they were made to work incredibly hard by a Cambridge outfit that relished their underdog status. Cambridge trailed 11-0 midway through the first-half, yet they rallied magnificently to score 16 unanswered points.
Scrumhalf Mark Chapman-Smith's try, and 11 points from the boot of outhalf Simon Amor, helped raise the game well above expectations.
Oxford made a dream start, when South African centre Werner van Pittius gathered a loose ball 60 metres out, and Jennings did the rest, sprinting over without a Cambridge hand being laid on him.
The score immediately underlined Oxford's status as favourites, and FitzGerald rubbed Cambridge noses in the dirt through two penalty strikes.
A brilliant recovery saw Cambridge rack up 10 points in three minutes. Amor opened their account with a short-range penalty, and Oxford were then rocked back by an outstanding Light Blues try.
Number eight Mike Count broke menacingly from the back of a scrum, sprinted into space and then kicked clear. two Dark Blues defenders failed to clear, and the ball squirted loose for Cambridge's New Zealand number nine ChapmanSmith to hack on and touch down.
Amor hoisted Cambridge ahead within five minutes of the restart, booting a second successful penalty after Oxford prop Haydn Jeffreys was caught offside.
Amor's third penalty 18 minutes from time put the Bowring Bowl within touching distance.
The game had inevitably become a survival of the fittest, and FitzGerald set up an exciting finale by reducing Oxford's arrears and matching Amor's penalty hattrick.
Chapman-Smith underlined Cambridge's determination with a crunching, try-saving tackle on Oxford full back Nick Marsh, but Oxford had more ammunition in reserve. Van Pittius again cut a devastating attacking angle during stamina-sapping final flourishes, and Jennings was sent scurrying over.
Amor sent a 78th-minute penalty wide of the target, and despite seven minutes of injury time, Oxford deservedly prevailed.
Cambridge Univ: Moffatt; Rudge, Quinlan, Davis, Rivaro; Amor, Chapman-Smith; Bosch, Derksen, Meredith, Mallett, Purdy, A Innes, Haslett, Count. Replacements: Lomax for Rudge (79 mins). Not Used: Edwards, Dunn, Mitchell, Brandt, Fearnley, Fries.
Oxford Univ: N Marsh; R Jennings, van Pittius, Adlen, Danielli; Fitzgerald, Weston; Jeffreys, Julyan, Lehner, A Russell, Miall, Sherriff, Robinson, Hendriksz. Replacements: Kelahar for Adlen (63 mins). Not Used: Nicholas, Ellis, C Edwards, Cook, N Edwards, Rubie.
Referee: E Morrison (RFU).