One New Zealand Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak made an emphatic return from injury with a four-try haul to propel the club’s New South Wales Cup side to a huge 54-14 win over Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
Initially listed on the NRL squad’s extended bench, Watene-Zelezniak was a late inclusion for his comeback appearance after suffering a calf injury in the club’s Preseason Challenge loss to Melbourne in Christchurch in February.
His stint on the sideline didn’t show as he scored in just the seventh minute before nabbing his second at the 23-minute mark.
The second half was only a minute old when Watene-Zelezniak completed his hat-trick and then added a fourth in the 59th minute.
His explosive return ensured the One New Zealand Warriors cruised to an impressive bounce-back win after falling 12-22 to Western Suburbs last week.
It resulted in them surging back up the ladder to second spot just two points behind leader Canterbury Bankstown.
While Watene-Zelezniak led the way with his four tries, captain Kalani Going had a double as the One New Zealand Warriors scored 10 tries in total.
Halfback Ronald Volkman finished with 18 points from a try and seven goals.
The One New Zealand Warriors have scored almost 100 points in their two encounters with the Knights. They won 42-20 in the opening round of the season to make it 96 points in total in the two contests.
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Newcastle Knights 14 (Ben Talty, Oryn Keeley, Enari Tuala tries; Thomas Cant conversion).
One New Zealand Warriors 54 (Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 4, Kalani Going 2, Ali Leiataua, Jacob Laban, Isaiah Vagana, Ronald Volkman tries; Ronald Volkman 7 conversions).
Halftime: 26-10 One New Zealand Warriors.
One New Zealand Warriors | Geronimo Doyle; Setu Tu, Moala Graham-Taufa, Ali Leiataua, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak; Ben Farr, Ronald Volkman; Zyon Maiu’u, Paul Roache, Isaiah Vagana; Kalani Going (captain), Jacob Laban; James Gavet. Interchange: Leka Halasima, Tahi Baggaley, Patrick Vaivai, Maia Sands.