Kevin Ferrie at Murrayfield As Jamie Syme gathered the ball that had just rebounded off the inside of the left upright, then kicked it to touch to end yesterday's Scottish Hydro Electric Cup final, the poignancy of the moment could escape no-one.

Somehow it was fated that the decisive moment would revolve around the 30-year-old Heriot's No.8 who had attended his mother's funeral, just two days earlier.

His very presence was an act of great courage. On the day Jane Syme died, exactly a week earlier, he had been unsure whether he had the will to play. On Monday, he was at training.

"In the huddle at the end that was what the lads were talking about. That victory was for Jamie," said Bob McKillop, the Heriot's head coach.

Yet it had looked like it might have gone the other way and, controversial off-field decisions having badly damaged this season's Scottish Cup, it was a matter of great relief for those in the Heriot's camp that one made on it did not, in the end, decide the tournament's outcome.

By any standards, the decision to sin-bin Syme 11 minutes from the end - with his team nine points ahead and set fair to avenge last year's defeat when the same sides met in the final - looked harsh. The No.8 had gone through a ruck from the side, but it was by no means cynical, nor had his side been guilty of repeatedly infringing.

However, when the Melrose captain Wight knocked over the resultant penalty, then sparked the attack in which James Lew fend off a string of tacklers to score a try that, when converted, nudged his side into a single point lead, it looked as if the man advantage might have been decisive.

But Tam McVie, the Heriot's captain, who claims less than convincingly that he is set to retire, and did not have the energy to rally his troops, admitted everyone else had said the right things when Syme was sin-binned.

They fought their way back to a field position that was only just within the range of Graeme Wilson - scorer of a Murrayfield match-winner before for Dollar Academy in a Scottish Schools Cup final - and earned a penalty. The scrum-half's well-struck effort from close to the left touch-line sneaked over the bar.

Just as it seemed the drama was complete, Heriot's conceded a penalty five metres inside their own half and, with the last kick of the game Wight launched it goalwards.

Having moments earlier thought he had won the match Wilson was among those who could not look.

Syme - who doubtless had a rather different perspective on just how important winning or losing a rugby match is in the greater scheme of things - reported that having kept his eyes glued to the ball's flight, he thought it was over before it struck the woodwork and landed in his arms.

It fell just the right side of the bar from Heriot's point of view and with one final swing of a meaty right leg this season's competition was over.

It may offer him little in the way of immediate consolation but both head coaches said afterwards that, even at the relatively advanced age of 22, Wight should, with Scottish rugby desperately needing authoritative stand-offs, be looked at as a potential professional.

Craig Chalmers, the ever competitive Melrose coach, meanwhile felt hard done by, believing his side had played better than when beating Heriot's in the final a year earlier and that this time the better team had lost.

Perhaps, but as he also acknowledged the Edinburgh club had done a much better job of taking their chances and they looked the likelier winners from the moment that Struan Dewar won the race to Ollie Brown's chip to score the game's first try midway through the first half.

With Johnny Alston adding a drop goal, David McCall, who looks a much better player than when he spent time on Edinburgh's books a few years ago, claimed their second try soon after the interval, working a one-two with Graham Thomson to get into the left corner. Two Wight penalties to one from Wilson meant Melrose did have a sliver of hope even before Syme was shown the yellow card to set up that rousing finale.

Since many of these men of Melrose picked up winners medals last year the suspicion must be that, when their initial disappointment subsides, they will not grudge Heriot's and in particular Jamie Syme, their moment.