Oxford University 38

(Tries: Barley 2, Pozniak, Stileman, Humberstone. Cons: Humberstone 5. Pen: Humberstone)

Cambridge University 16

(Try: Koster. Con: Bell. Pens: Phillips 3)

DAN Barley crossed twice as Oxford University put two years of woe behind them to convincingly beat Cambridge in the Men’s Varsity Match.

Tom Humberstone also contributed 18 points as the Dark Blues triumphed at Twickenham for the first time since 2015.

Cambridge were eyeing a hat-trick of wins, but Oxford had other ideas to overturn an early six-point deficit before racing to victory in front of 21,893 at the home of English rugby.

The Dark Blues were dealt a blow on two minutes when they lost No 8 Sven Kerneis to injury.

Cambridge went on to dominate the early proceedings and made the most of their territory to lead 6-0 after 13 minutes, thanks to two Mike Phillips penalties.

A bruising opening also saw Dark Blues hooker John Aaron Henry go off injured, but Oxford reacted well to the setbacks.

After George Robson and captain Dom Waldouck were stopped in their tracks, Humberstone’s 19th-minute penalty reduced the deficit.

The Dark Blues had their tails up and Tom Stileman stretched for the try-line but was just short, before Joe Morris fumbled on five metres following a poor pass from George Tresidder.

Oxford should have made the most of their purple patch and were fortunate not to concede a try towards the end of the half.

Chris Bell’s tap-and-go caught them by surprise and Elliott Baines chased a grubber into the corner and dotted down, but both the winger and the ball were out of touch.

World Cup final referee Nigel Owens had played advantage and went back for the penalty, which Phillips slotted over to make it 9-3 after 34 minutes.

Oxford had been fortunate to only concede three points, but on the brink of half-time they stunned Cambridge.

A brilliant Humberstone kick relieved pressure and the ball was worked wide to Ben Ransom, who fed Barley to race over in the corner for a fine try.

Fly-half Humberstone then excellently converted from the touchline to put Oxford 10-9 in front at the break.

The half could not have ended better for the Dark Blues and they made a brilliant start to the second period when Charlie Pozniak went over following an unstoppable catch and drive.

Humberstone, once again, added the extras from out wide to make it 17-8 after 46 minutes.

The Dark Blues’s injury woes continued as former Harlequins lock Robson was forced off, but it did not affect them as they extended their lead on the hour.

Stileman had worked tirelessly in defence and he scored a try he richly deserved when shrugging off three tacklers to dive over in the left-hand corner, Humberstone converting again, to make it 24-9.

Cambridge’s afternoon got even worse seven minutes later as Phillips was sin-binned and Oxford made the extra man count immediately when Barley dived over out wide for his second try, Humberstone adding the extras.

The Dark Blues now led by 22 points, but their opponents were not finished and captain Nick Koster was driven over, Bell converting.

However, there was to be no comeback as Oxford hit back to cross for a fifth time, Humberstone converting his own try, to make it 38-16 with seven minutes remaining.

That score put the contest to bed as the Dark Blues rediscovered that winning feeling.

Oxford: Ransom (Martin 77), Barley, Kearns, Waldouck (Jackson 77), Stileman, Humberstone, Tresidder (McGagh 77), Parker, Henry (King 12), Morris (Hennessy 77), Dix, Robson (Warr 51), Pozniak, Miller (Naude 77), Kerneis (Jones 2).

Cambridge: Gatus (Gnodde 58), Baines, King, Hennessey (Triniman 76), Story, Phillips, Bell (Saunders 74), MacCallum (Somers 65), Huppatz (Schusman 65), Dean (Dixon 65), Eriksen, Hunter, Leonard, McMahon (Smart 58), Koster (Smart 54).