Mitre 10 Cup

Last-gasp Gatland earns North Harbour promotion

Bryn Gatland scored a last-gasp drop goal to secure the Mitre 10 Cup Championship title for North Harbour with a 17-14 victory over Otago in Dunedin.

Otago topped the Championship table in the regular season and beat North Harbour 24-13 in their previous meeting but were denied a place in next season's Premiership by the 79th-minute heroics of Gatland.

Fa'asiu Fuatai crossed in the corner in the first minute to give Otago an early advantage, but North Harbour – appearing in their first final since 1994 – hit back when Tevita Li bulldozed through a pair of tackles to send Michael Little over.

Otago turned down a pair of penalties in the first half and paid the price as Gatland nailed a third successful three-pointer early in the second half.

Tom Franklin crashed across to tie the match at 14-14, setting the stage for an exhilarating finale in which Gatland split the posts with the winning drop goal in the final minute.