Hull KR 16 Warrington Wolves 14 - Quinlan’s return does the trick as Robins prepare for showdown

AS Steve Price left the players’ dining area under Craven Park’s main stand on Saturday, the Warrington Wolves head coach saw Adam Quinlan out of the corner of his eye.

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He checked his stride and detoured to go back over and shake the Hull KR player’s hand.

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“You were too good for us mate, just too good. I’m real pleased for you,” said Price.

Rovers star Adam Quinlan gets away from Warrington's Mike Cooper. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

It was a nice touch. Fellow Australian Quinlan had just scored a dramatic 75th-minute converted try to earn relegation-threatened Rovers a shock win over his side who are challenging for a league and cup double.

More than that, though, it was the classy full-back’s first game in nine months since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.

You would never have guessed; the club’s reigning player-of-the-year looked like he had never been away, gliding around the turf so effortlessly and constantly keeping Warrington’s defence concerned.

Price’s assessment was certainly spot on.

Hull KR's Adam Quinlan scores his team's winning try during the Betfred Super League match at Craven Park, Hull. (Picture: Dave Howarth/PA Wire)

Quinlan, 26, told The Yorkshire Post: “Steve gave me my debut back in the NRL with St George so it was good to hear him say ‘well done’ and give me a praise there.

“He was a great coach for me and gave me that start.

“It feels really good to be back. It’s been a long time I’ve been out and I’ve put a lot of hard work in on the training pitch so it’s good to get through a game unscathed.”

After major corrective surgery to his knee and battling through months of arduous rehab, did he always dream about marking his comeback in such style with the winning try?

“No, I didn’t. I was quite nervous today getting back out there today,” admitted Quinlan, Ben Crooks having put former Wolves winger Will Dagger racing away to set him up before Ryan Shaw held his nerve to slot the definitive touchline conversion.

“It was good work from all the boys during the game. I was just lucky enough to finish that off.

“To be honest, I don’t think I even turned around when Shawy was kicking it. I was just waiting for the crowd (reaction). He’s a great kicker and spends a lot of time practicing; he nails them from everywhere so I was quite confident in him.

“When I heard the crowd go up I was happy. It’s a massive win for us given the position we’re in.

“We’ve let a lot of close ones slip this year, too, especially at home so it was good to not let that one go and to get the two points.

“Now we can build on that.”

It was Tony Smith’s first win as Rovers head coach in just his second game since replacing the sacked Tim Sheens and it came at the expense of his former club whom he left 18 months ago.

Smith’s positive influence is already clear, especially in defence where he has quickly helped stiffen up the worst in Super League.

More work needs to be done, of course, especially sharpening the attack, but it cannot be under-estimated just how significant this win was especially as other events unfolded on Saturday night.

As Quinlan looked for somewhere to place his man-of-the-match Champagne, London Broncos had kicked off in Perpignan.

By the time they ended, they had kicked up a storm; the competition’s bottom club backed up a shock victory against leaders St Helens with a stunning 30-12 success over Challenge Cup holders Catalans Dragons.

It leaves Leeds Rhinos (10th), Rovers (11th) and London now all locked on 12 points as the battle to avoid relegation further intensified; Salford as high as sixth, are still only four points adrift of bottom.

Who do Rovers face next? Broncos. In Ealing. On Thursday.

Quinlan conceded: “It is a massive game with both of us being level and down there they have been hard to beat this season.

“We’ll have to step it up again this week but we can build on a victory like this. The boys will be confident going forward now.”

Rightly so. Firstly, as those at the bottom desperately look for fresh recruits to bolster their survival bids, Quinlan’s return to fitness must seem like gaining a major new signing for the Robins while Smith’s appointment will only make them stronger again.

Rovers have secured Warrington’s England Academy back-row Luis Johnson on a month’s loan to augment them and the coach expects further arrivals.

The hosts enjoyed the better of the first half but went in 8-4 down after Bryson Goodwin’s solo try, Dec Patton converting and adding a penalty.

Shaw’s two penalties kept KR in touch so they went ahead when he converted impressive prop Mose Masoe’s 54th-minute try.

Josh Charnley quickly replied for Warrington, Patton improving, so the hosts looked destined for another narrow loss.

However, having toiled so often trying to break Wolves down from close range, Dagger’s rapid break from deep finally set up Quinlan’s glorious finish.

Hull KR: Quinlan; Dagger, Crooks, Hall, Shaw; Drinkwater, Atkin; Masoe, Lawler, Garbutt, Hauraki, Tomkins, Mulhern. Substitutes: Harrison, Keinhorst, Lee, Rooks.

Warrington Wolves: Mamo; Charnley, King, Goodwin, Johnson; Austin, Patton; Hill, Walker, Cooper, Currie, Murdoch-Masila, Hughes. Susbtitutes: Akauola, Davis, J Clark, Livett.

Referee: J Child (Dewsbury).