Oxford University 48-10 Cambridge University
The grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company, in the heart of the City of London, hosted the 37th Rugby League Varsity Match with Oxford going for their eighth consecutive victory.
They achieved it by running in eight tries, three of which came from their skipper Jordan Ayling, who converted every one for a haul of 28 points which earned him the man of the match award.
Despite another one-sided scoreline this was a more competitive game than the previous three encounters, with Cambridge getting into double figures for the first time since 2011. However, despite their effort and enthusiasm they never looked like overcoming a well-drilled Oxford outfit.
It took the Dark Blues less than two minutes to open the scoring when half-back Ayling sliced through the Cambridge defence for his first try. Five minutes later Oxford moved the ball wide on the sixth tackle, enabling wing Matt Brady to cross in the corner.
Ayling converted both and at 12-0 another one-sided contest was on the cards. But the Light Blues hit back and some slick handling put Sam Parker over in the corner for only their second try in the last six fixtures.
This seemed to galvanise Cambridge who gave as good as they got for the next 10 minutes. But going into the second quarter, Oxford struck again, a smart move allowing wing Mark Cullen to touchdown. Ayling then crossed for his second and his two conversions gave them a 24-4 lead at the break.
The early exchanges of the second half were scrappy with both sides guilty of making basic errors and it was two such mistakes by Cambridge which proved costly. They lost the ball in a tackle 30 metres out from their line which resulted in Ayling completing his hat-trick and minutes later they knocked on just 20 metres out.
The Dark Blues once again took full advantage with full-back Conor Williets darting through under the posts. Ayling’s two conversion made it 30-4 to put his side firmly in control.
But Cambridge stuck to their task and going into the final quarter they got their reward. They managed to put some real pressure on the Oxford defence, which resulted in full-back Craig Winfield forcing his way over from close range. Jack Fernon added the extras but that was as close as they got to their opponents.
The Dark Blues wrapped things ups with tries from Michal Woyton and Will Taverner, Ayling maintaining his 100 per cent record with the boot.
It was a fitting finale for Oxford coach Dan Garbutt who steps downs after 13 years with the club.
Oxford: Conor Williets; Matt Brady, Harry Sturgess, William Taverner, Joseph Cullen; Mark Roper, Jordan Ayling(c); Sven Kerneis, Zachary Keane, Joseph Mash, Marco Hiscox , Daniel Smith, Jake Langmead-Jones Interchange: Nick Dodds
Reilly Knight, Michal Woyton, William Henshall, Robert Bartlett, Angus McCance,
Tries: Ayling (3), Brady, Cullen, Williets, Woyton, Taverner Goals: Ayling (8)
Cambridge: Craig Winfield; Ryan McDonnell, Miles Huppatz (c), Sam Parker, Sandy McCleery; Jack Fernon Thomas Davidson; Ned Bransden, Sam Henry-Pressling, Hamish Oliphant, Henry Biddlecombe, Callum Slatter, Jack Bowskill Interchange: Andy Camsell, Hilary Foord, Tom Wilson, Owen Male, Elliot Pulver
Tries: Parker, Winfield Goal: Fernon
Referee: Matt Rossleigh