Ofahengaue's happy birthday
Brisbane Broncos prop Joe Ofahengaue turned 22 on Friday night and there was one present he wanted most – a semi-final victory over the Penrith Panthers.
And that is what he got, with his side putting together a gutsy performance to win 13-6 at Suncorp Stadium and book a flight to face the Storm in Melbourne in Friday's preliminary final.
It took a great amount of effort and determination from the Broncos who finished with just one fit player on the bench after Corey Oates, Jai Arrow and Sam Thaiday all went down with head knocks.
Those player losses prompted Ofahengaue to help lift Brisbane to victory, with the newly turned 22-year-old digging deep to play the most minutes of his career.
Ofahengaue was exhausted after his 51-minute stint and he had reason to be after making 35 tackles and running for 124 metres.
Despite being out on his feet, the young forward still took time to talk post match to NRL.com, elated with the result.
"It's the best birthday present I've ever had and it's been the best year of footy I've had. I'm enjoying footy and I'm loving life at this club," Ofahengaue said.
"We all just kept pushing on because we knew it was do or die. To Penrith's credit, they just kept turning up all night. We had to be a bit better to get the win and we were."
Brisbane's goal-line defence was what made them that little bit better, making 35 tackles inside their own 20-metre line as they clung to their lead.
That equates to six sets for Penrith to try and crack the Broncos' line from close range, but they could only do it once, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard crashing over in the 64th minute.
Neither side wanted to bow out of the competition this early and that is why it was such a physical contest according to Ofahengaue.
"I'd have to say it is definitely one of the more physical games I've ever played in. I copped like three head knocks. I think some of the others boys were feeling the same way. We had to throw everything at them in defence. We didn't want to lose," he said.
"Intent-wise, both teams wanted it. It was just so pleasing for me to go out there and get a win on my birthday. That does not happen very often.
"I'm just so stoked that all the boys turned up. We all trusted each other and that's what we needed to do."