SO near and yet so far; a fair description of Melrose's RBS Cup final heartbreak but also of Craig Chalmers' entire coaching career so far.

Titles and trophies have come his way, there have been moments of glory and triumph but in the end he failed to make the breakthrough he is clearly desperate for and now he heads out of Scotland with his final memory one of the most cruel defeats he has experienced.

Chalmers has never made any secret of his ambition to join the full-time coaching ranks, but every time he has looked to be on the verge of achieving his ambition, something has conspired to get in his way – and if he really needed any confirmation that he is not being paranoid, that the rugby gods really do have it in for him, then the Cup final defeat to Ayr, who claim the league and cup double as a result, was it.

"It was testament to the club game, the application, the fitness levels, the defence. It was a tough shift for both teams, there was very, very little in it," he said. "It is hard, I am disappointed, gutted, feel like my heart has been ripped out, but these things happen, it is sport. Highs, lows, emotions – there have been a hell of a lot of highs over the last few years -"

His voice breaks with the emotion and a heartfelt sigh. He had a point. Any team that loses a cup final after 104 minutes of action, as his had done, must feel hard done by. All square at 18 apiece after the end of regulation time, they went into 20 minutes of extra time. Chalmers' Melrose side seemed to have done just enough when an early Ayr score by man of the match Nick Cox, the prop, was overtaken by a breakout kick and chase that ended with Fraser Thomson, the Melrose full-back, grabbing a try and Andy Skeen, the replacement fly-half, converting it. They held on to the lead gallantly through the rest of extra time and with 30 seconds to go, a free kick on their own 22 gave Melrose the chance to play out the final phases, clear the ball and walk up to collect the cup. Only they got panicked, had to kick, and handed Ayr one last chance.

It was magnificent stuff from the men in black and pink. Several times play almost broke down, but every time they managed to recover and go again, pummelling the Melrose line as the Borders defence stood firm. It went on for minute after minute and in the end it was Chalmers' men who broke, allowing an overlap out wide for Cammy Taylor, the replacement Ayr wing, to scamper over.

As Kenny Murray, the jubilant Ayr coach, pointed out, it was probably justice. His side did dominate the try count, winning it 4-1, and that ought to count for something. "To win the double is a unbelievable achievement," he added.

"Two or three minutes to go, I didn't think we were going to come back, though. They are a good defensive team. If only we had played the whole game the way we did in those final minutes, it would not have been so close – but then the crowd would not have had so much drama."

Nor was the drama confined to just the main final. In the second-ranked Shield event, Marr, unbeaten this season, seemed to have things wrapped up early when they raced into a 19-3 lead over Livingston at the break with tries from Scott Bickerstaff and Paul Burke, but suffered a bit of a second- half wobble. Livingston clawed their way back to 19-15, but Marr reasserted themselves to run away with the final quarter and claim the trophy with a 30-15 win.

In the first final of the day, Oban Lorne claimed the Bowl thanks to a sterling forwards effort against Grangemouth. They from behind twice to level the scores at 14-14 just before half time before lock Jamie McMillan crashed over for what proved to the final and decisive score for Oban.