The final at the Rectory ended 25-25, but Saltash could have won it with the last kick of the match after Cornwall player Max Venables scored his third try of the contest right at the death.
The former Plymouth Albion back, who was a surprise name on Saltash IIIs team list, had the conversion to seal the game. However, his kick went wide, which meant Plymouth University won the trophy, having scored five tries to Saltash’s four.
Saltash fielded an ex-Plymouth Albion half-back partnership with veteran player-coach Richard Thompson lining up alongside Venables.
And it was the Ashes who took the lead in the sixth minute when full-back Lewis Stuart scored a try in the right corner.
The students, though, levelled five minutes later when Dan Cooke showed good speed to score on the left.
However, almost immediately Saltash went up the other end and scored again, with Venables showing his class to touch down under the posts. He also converted to put his side 12-5 up.
Plymouth University had a man sin-binned after that, but they did not let it upset them and they closed the gap to 12-10 at half-time with a try by Luke Turner.
After the interval, Venables, who featured in Cornwall’s successful 2015 County Championship campaign, saw a penalty kick bounce off the post.
If that was a key moment, so was Saltash picking up two yellow cards seven minutes later, with coach Thompson and number eight Axel Nicks sent to the bin as tempers flared.
Almost immediately the students scored a third try with Cooke again crossing the whitewash.
However, they then picked up another yellow card themselves and Venables kicked the resultant penalty to level the match at 15-15.
Two tries in two minutes looked to have put Plymouth University on their way to victory.
First, Alex Mawdsley crossed in the left corner before Turner went over for his second on the right. That put the students, who did not manage to convert any of their tries, 25-15 in front.
The Cornish side then wasted a number of good chances before the students were reduced to 14 men in injury-time.
With time up, Venables once again went over the whitewash, but he crucially missed the kick to win the game.
However, it appeared that neither side had read the rules in the programme as when he missed the conversion, both teams seemed to be expecting extra-time until the referee informed them that in the event of a tie tries scored counted.