The players’ faces at full-time told the story – Melrose, to a man, gutted and disbelieving, and Ayr wearing the delighted expressions of men handed an unexpected get out of jail card.
Even Ayr coach Peter Murchie felt for Rose. “That’s a horrible way to lose, but an amazing way to win,” he said.
Rob Chrystie of Melrose was finding it hard to put a brave face on things, admitting he was struggling to control his emotions. “We deserved better,” he said.
However, considering how many great chances Ayr butchered, particularly in the first half, they perhaps deserved to grind out the win. They did, after all, score the game’s only try, through Grant Anderson, in 50 minutes. Prop Steven Longwell is also adamant he had a good try not given, while hooker Robbie Smith is also sure he had scored before referee Ben Bain awarded that clinching penalty try.
All the other points came from penalties, Frazier Climo and Craig Jackson exchanging first-half penalties, before Jackson edged Melrose 9-3 in front. Anderson’s try then made it a one-point game, before Jackson stretched the visitors’ lead to 12-8.
Then, deep in injury time, came that dramatic late decision and Ayr were home, ready to face Heriot’s, back here at Millbrae, in the play-off final next month.