OXFORD University were beaten 39-35 in a thrilling encounter against Madagascar in the opening game of their pre-season tour.

Played in front of 25,000 in Antananarivo, two tries from Tom Stileman proved in vain as the Dark Blues came close to recording an historic victory over the national side.

The lead changed hands several times, with the game, the first of two against Madagascar, going down to the wire.

Madagascar crossed for the match-winning score after the 80 minutes to edge an entertaining contest.

Ben Ransom, Joshua Navarajasegaran and captain Dom Waldouck also crossed for Oxford, with Tom Humberstone kicking five conversions.

The Dark Blues will look to tie the series when they take on Madagascar again on Sunday.

Oxford’s women’s side were also in action on their tour in Barcelona.

However, they were beaten 34-12 by Poble Nou, with captain Abby D’Cruz and vice skipper Sophie Trott scoring the Dark Blues’ tries.