BLAKE AUSTIN lived up to his ‘marquee’ status as the Warrington Wolves stand-off pulled the strings to help defeat gutsy Hull KR but he was in the middle of controversy, too.
Along with England full-back Stefan Ratchford, the Australian star came up with most of the game’s best moments as Wolves followed up their opening day win over Leeds Rhinos.
However, Austin, the big-money recruit from Canberra Raiders, also came up with the worst, blotting his copybook with a crude late challenge on Joel Tomkins that saw the Hull KR captain led off injured in the 26th minute.
The Warrington player was sin-binned. Some would argue it should have been red after the dangerous challenge on the ex-England second-row, who was already floored tackled on the ground after a 40m intercept.
Tomkins did not return but Rovers instantly made the most of the extra man as Chris Atkin’s long pass saw Craig Hall in for an 8-6 lead.
However, Austin returned and, with just seconds before the interval, helped set up Tom Lineham, the former Hull FC winger who produced a great one-handed finish for his 100th Super League try.
Ratchford’s conversion put Warrington 12-8 ahead and - for all of the Robins’ hard effort and endeavour - the hosts always had too much class from thereon in.
Austin’s running game and footwork was a constant threat but it was a gift try that saw Steve Price’s side take command.
The 27-year-old hoisted a high kick that Atkin looked to have in control.
However, the England Knights half-back - playing at No1 with Adam Quinlan a long-term injury - overran the ball and mistimed his leap, spilling to give Harvey Livett an easy run-in from 20m in the 53rd minute.
Austin should have made sure when he rounded Atkin soon after following another electrifying run but he lost the ball when passing to Jack Hughes would have been an easier option.
Rovers, who saw Junior Vaivai injured, too, struggled for field position but Danny McGuire gained them some when he dummied and broke clear from depe before kicking on to the corner.
Josh Charnley was forced into conceding a drop-out but the visitors’ hopes of applying some much-needed pressure were ended when Atkin’s long pass to Hall this time was picked off by Charnley, the ex-England winger sprinting 90m for a 65th minute score that sealed it.
Tim Sheens’ side kept at it, just as they did to win the derby in the final seconds last week, but there was no heroics this time.
Danny Addy did well to send Jimmy Keinhorst over for his second try in as many games, Josh Drinkwater improving, but Warrington made sure with the final play as Chris Hill bustled through for Mike Cooper to cross.
Rovers had opened the scoring with a classy effort from Ben Crooks, the winger latching onto Atkins' grubber following a clever midfield interchange.
Livett, making the most of his chance after coming in for the suspended Ben Westwood, quickly responded with the first of his two tries, the second one being the killer.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Charnley; Austin, Patton; Hill, D Clark, Cooper, Livett, Hughes, J Clark. Substitutes: Murdoch-Masila, Walker, Philbin, Tasi.
Hull KR: Atkin; Crooks, Keinhorst, Linnett, Hall; McGuire, Drinkwater; Masoe, Lee, Mulhern, Tomkins, Hauraki, Lawler. Substitutes: Garbutt, Greenwood, Addy, Vaivai.
Referee: Liam Moore (Leeds)