SO goodbye Craig Chalmers.

It was always entertaining having you around as the man in charge of Melrose, though in a period full of frustrations none can have been as hard to take as the way that your charges threw away a golden chance to earn a trophy to speed your way to new rugby pastures in London and deliver a happy ending

It was, to be fair, gripping stuff. Two points ahead in extra time, the clock had almost run out and all Melrose needed was to go through another phase and get the ball off the field. Except Andy Skeen kicked it infield, and Ayr launched a last-ditch assault.

Minutes passed but the Melrose defence held firm. Ayr hammered at their line, but got nowhere for almost four minutes, with the next break in play ending the game. Finally, a gap appeared, Ross Curle, the Ayr fly-half, spread the ball wide and there was just enough space for Cammy Taylor, the replacement wing, to squeeze into the corner.

Even then, there was a bit of extra drama before Ayr were handed the second part of their league and cup double. Referee Lloyd Linton appeared to give the score, seemed to change his mind, consulted his touch judge and went off for a little think. Then up went his arm and Ayr had taken the RBS Cup in the most dramatic fashion – with a good four minutes of play after the 100 minutes of the game plus extra time were over.

The memorable finale was not a surprise. Throughout, it had been entertaining. There is be a tendency for finals to be nervy, edgy affairs with caution the guiding principle for both sides, but not here, not in this game.

"Unfortunately, we have been here before a couple of times," said Chalmers. "It a testament to both sides, their determination, their fitness levels, the defence; there was little in it, but we just did not hold on to ball well enough in the last five or six minutes."

Ayr had edged in front with Richard Dalgleish, the wing, finishing a fluid piece of combined forward and backs play in the first half and Nick Cox, the prop, barging over from short-range in the second. With Ross Curle converting the second and Peter Jericevich adding a couple of penalties, they might have done enough to beat a lesser side.

Melrose were not for letting go. A succession of penalties from Joe Helps, the centre, kept them in touch, until he went off with a twisted ankle and Richard Mill stepped up to land the kick that took the game to extra time.

Ayr got first blood in the added period, Cox again providing the power, this time peeling off the back of a rolling maul, but Melrose found that moment of magic they needed, Alan Dodds, the wing, kicking into acres of space behind the Ayr defence and Fraser Thomson, the full back, winning the race for the ball. With Skeen, the Scotland sevens player, adding the conversion, they were back in front, setting up that dramatic finale.

For Chalmers, it was not the swansong he had hoped for, but he leaves the Melrose club in particular and the club game in general in good health. "For both sides to play like that is testament to the health of the club game," he said. "I'm gutted, but these things happen; it is sport with its highs and lows and there have been a hell of a lot of highs at Melrose over the last few years."

Melrose: F Thomson; C Anderson, B Dick, J Helps, A Dodds; R Mill, B Colvine; N Little, W Mitchell, G Holborn, G Dodds, P Eccles, J Dalziel (sin bin: 6-16), G Runciman, A Nagle. Replacements (all used): R Ferguson, S Lowe, R Miller, R Ovens, S McCormic, A Letham, A Skeen.

Ayr: G Anderson; R Dalgleish, R Fergusson, D Kelbrick, C Gossman; R Curle, P Jericevich, D Mutamangira, H Wisnewski, G Hunter, C White, S Sutherland, A Dunlop, C Forrester. Replacements (all used): S Fenwick, N Cox, D Rae, P McCallum, G Fisken, M McConnell, C Taylor.

Referee: L Linton Attendance: 7367