A last-minute drop goal from Bryn Gatland has secured a dramatic win for the Highlanders against the much fancied Chiefs in Dunedin.

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Facing his father and Chiefs head coach Warren, Bryn rammed home a three-pointer from close range in the dying stages in front of a near-sold out arena to give the southerners an early leg-up in the Kiwi Super Rugby league.

The 25-year-old’s efforts in the 79th minute was met with a raucous reception under the roof of Forsyth Barr Stadium, and pundits on Twitter joined in on the jubilation – and dejection – as the hosts rejoiced following a tensely-fought battle.

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Kirstie Stanway and Israel Dagg talk to rugby players from around New Zealand as they gear up for week one of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Coming into the match day squad as a late replacement for the injured Josh Ioane, Gatland became the unlikely hero for the Highlanders in what is his only appearance for the 2015 Super Rugby champions this season.

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Other Twitter users were quick to highlight the irony of Gatland being the source of Warren’s – who was earlier this week named the greatest coach in the world by fans – demise.

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The result leaves Warren’s Chiefs rooted to the bottom of the Super Rugby Aotearoa standings as they prepare to host the much-discussed Blues in Hamilton next week.

That could prove to be a difficult task for the Waikato franchise should the Blues, who will field All Blacks star Beauden Barrett for the first time tomorrow against the Hurricanes at Eden Park, emerge victorious against the Wellingtonians.

With elevated confidence, Leon MacDonald’s side may well be a tougher ask to handle than that of the Highlanders, who were written off by many leading into the revamped campaign, with the TAB placing them at odds of $31.

Aaron Mauger’s side, meanwhile, will head into their bye week on top of the world, with a clash against Blues in Auckland awaiting them in two weeks’ time.

How that match pans out remains to be seen, but if tonight’s performance is anything to go by, the Dunedin club could well be a force to be reckoned with throughout the rest of this season.

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