NRL fans baffled as 'odd' Corban Baxter moment in Women's Origin prompts confusion

The moment in the first few minutes of the game left viewers perplexed after a record-breaking night.

NRL fans have been left baffled after Blues five-eighth Corban Baxter appeared to escape a penalty for making clear contact with the leg of the kicker in the Women's State of Origin only days after the Harry Grant controversy. There were magical scenes on Thursday night as a record crowd turned out to watch Game I of the Women's State of Origin as the Blues defeated the Maroons 22-12 to kick-start Magic Round.

In front of more than 25,000 fans, Jaime Chapman scored one of the tries of the season as she ran nearly 60 metres after breaking the line and cruising past the Maroons fullback to give the Blues a lead. However, it only took two minutes into the game for fans to be left baffled after pressure was put on the kicker.

Harry Grant reacts and Corban Baxter collides with Zahara Temara.
NRL fans have been left baffled after Blues five-eighth Corban Baxter (pictured right) escaped a penalty in the Women's State of Origin only days after the controversy surrounding Harry Grant. (Images: Getty Images/Channel Nine)

In the Maroons' first set, Zahara Temara went to put up a high-kick for her chasers. Blues playmaker Baxter put the pressure on the halfback. Baxter mistimed her chase and as Temara kicked the ball, she collected her legs on the way through.

Temara and the Maroons played on after the collision with nothing mentioned in commentary. Later, Baxter was put on report for the collision. But the incident wasn't missed from NRL fans. This comes after Harry Grant was given 10 minutes in the bin and the Storm penalised for a lesser incident last Friday night.

Grant barely brushed Daniel Atkinson's leg as he launched a kick, but the referee and Bunker deemed Grant needed time on the sideline. Grant's face said it all as he showed his bewilderment at the decision. Fans were left raging as former players such as Cameron Smith and Braith Anasta calling out the NRL for how they were enforcing the rule.

In Baxter's case, she clearly made contact with Tamara's kicking leg as she ran through her opponent. While referees have often allowed more leeway during State of Origin to allow the contest to flow, this ruling comes just days after the Grant drama.

Corban Baxter waves to the fans.
Corban Baxter (pictuerd) was put on report for a collision with Zahara Temara's legs.

Most fans are calling for a consistent ruling, whether it is in the NRLW or NRL, with referees under intense scrutiny at the moment to get it right. After the incident, Blues coach Kylie Hilder played down the contact.

"I don't think she was deliberately attacking the legs. It was just an unfortunate situation," Hilder said in her post-match interview. Regardless, NRL fans were left baffled Baxter wasn't penalised after the NRL has made a stand so far in their interpretation of the rule.

Regardless of the incident on report, the match was played at a breathtaking pace with the Blues taking the lead in the first inaugural three-game series. The Blues carried a number of injuries into the game, but some brilliant selections from Hilder, including replacing teen sensation Jesse Southwell with veteran halfback Rachael Pearson, proved enough.

"We've had a lot of people doubt our team so to prove all those people wrong and come away with a solid win, it's making game two very exciting," Blues co-captain Isabelle Kelly said after the win.


Coach Hilder was full of praise for Pearson after coming in and showing her experience. "I thought Rachael was outstanding," Hilder added. While the Blues were thrilled, Maroons coach Tahnee Norris was confident her team could find the solutions heading into Game II.

"We knew we made some really crucial errors in that first half and it did us in," Maroons coach Norris said. "If we can fix those crucial errors, I think it changes the game."

Zahara Temara and Emma Tonegato embrace.
Zahara Temara (pictured left) and Emma Tonegato (pictured right) embrace after the Origin game.