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.
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.
Bryn Gatland, who wasn’t even supposed to be playing, nails a late DG to beat his dad’s Chiefs team by one point. ?pic.twitter.com/iWlPoqaEGX
— Matthew Southcombe (@MattSouth7) June 13, 2020
Bryn Gatland wasn’t even supposed to play for the Highlanders tonight but Josh Ioane’s late scratching lands him a spot on the bench. He comes on to score the winning drop goal to beat a Chiefs team coached by his dad. Not a bad way to start the Super Rugby Aotearoa season.
— Phillip Rollo (@ByPhillipRollo) June 13, 2020
That Bryn Gatland drop goal was an absolute beauty. Like a flyaway ball on the beach it flailed around and eventually went through.
— Sam Larner (@SamLStandsUp) June 13, 2020
Aaron mauger will be screaming “Double roll” at all his ball carries in training next week. #HIGvCHI
— Jim Hamilton (@jimhamilton4) June 13, 2020
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.
Imagine being Bryn Gatland – you’ve disappointed the Prime Minister and your Dad.
— Michael Colhoun (@michaelcolhoun) June 13, 2020
— Chris Jones (@CJones_94) June 13, 2020
@BrynGatland’s getting grounded for that??
— Lucus Welch (@lucus910) June 13, 2020
In 2017, Bryn Gatland played an absolute blinder for NZ Provincial Barbarians against the British Lions coached by his dad. They’d lose 13-7.
Today he goes one further & kicks the winning drop goal against his dad’s heavily favoured Chiefs in the #Aotearoa opener. Extraordinary.
— Runningflyhalf (@Runningflyhalf) June 13, 2020
Bryn Gatland scored the drop goal to beat the Warren Gatland coached Chiefs.
In unrelated news Bryn is now out of Warren's will.
— Sanjay Patel (@spat106) June 13, 2020
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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