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Ponga and Best run riot in Raiders demolition

A barnstorming performance from Bradman Best has laid the platform for the nib Newcastle Knights to claim a crucial 34-24 win over Canberra.

Best presented a constant threat on the left edge, returning for his first game since June.

He dominated every aspect of the first half, with two try assists and a try before the break.

Played 24 hours late due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Brisbane, the sun was shining on Suncorp Stadium as the two sides took the field.

It was perhaps the most important game of the season for both sides, with a spot in top eight potentially up for grabs for the winning team.

The sunshine laid the platform for a fast, dry track, with open footy played from the opening whistle.

Advantage Newcastle.

Kalyn Ponga kick started the contest with a busy opening 10 minutes, sparking what's been a dormant Knights attack in recent weeks.

Back at full-strength, the red and blue forward pack rolled through the middle third from the outset, laying the perfect platform for the outside backs.

With conditions and personnel in their favour, the Knights took full advantage in the opening stages.

Bradman Best just running riot to hand Tuala a double

Enari Tuala opened the scoring with a sensational effort, bumping off three defenders on his way to the line after a Best-inspired backline movement which started in his own half.

Best followed himself soon after, grabbing his first four pointer since Round One when he completed a simple 3 on 2 in the seventh minute.

Mann followed soon after, grabbing the Knights' third after swallowing a bomb from Jake Clifford.

A stunning Harley Smith-Shields finish in the corner was the Green Machine's only response to the first half rout, which was cancelled out by a stunning Tuala which was again laid on by the tearaway centre on his inside, setting up a 22-6 half-time lead.

It was arguably the best 40 minute performance of the season from the Knights, who are looking to kick start their top eight campaign with five games left in the regular season.

They didn't have it all their own way in the second half, with Josh Papalii crossing for the first try after the break.

David Klemmer almost grabbed the response, however it was a Ponga special which restored the three try advantaged.

Ponga provides Tuala with his hat-trick

The right to left cut out pass found Tuala, who crossed for his first career hat-trick.

Ponga wrapped the result up soon after, scoring an iconic try off a scrum feed 30 metres out from the line.

Attention now turns to Brisbane, with the Knights to face the Broncos off a four day turn-around on Thursday night.