Austin saw red in the 39th minute for elbowing Ben Marshall off the ball and although Leeds resisted strongly until just after the hour mark, second-half goals by Tom Cairney, Jordan Rhodes and Jay Spearing settled the match
Rovers extended their unbeaten away run to six matches, while Leeds’ five-game undefeated sequence came to an end.
Austin, back in the Leeds side after a five-match absence, was shown a straight red card after referee Gary Sutton was called over by a linesman, who had spotted the offence on former Stoke and Leicester winger Marshall in the right corner.
Leeds fans voiced their wholehearted backing for head coach Neil Redfearn and his sacked assistant Steve Thompson. Loud chants of “there’s only one Neil Redfearn” and “there’s only one Steve Thompson” rang out around the ground soon after the start.
Just two days earlier, Redfearn said he was considering his future after Thompson was mysteriously suspended for the remainder of the season and told his contract would not be renewed.
Thompson was informed of his suspension by Leeds’ football director, Nicola Salerno, who is believed to be considering his own position.
Blackburn, who had 19-year-old Spanish keeper David Raya making his debut, withstood early pressure before almost taking a 13th-minute lead when Rhodes shot against the bar and Marshall fired the rebound into the side-netting.
Rhodes then produced a neat turn but shot over from eight yards and when Austin had Leeds’ best chance so far, he nodded Charlie Taylor’s cross over the bar before leaving his team to battle on with 10 men.
Raya had been largely untested on his debut, his only first-half save keeping out Sam Byram’s acute angled shot, but Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri had to pull off a desperate stop from Rudy Gestede at point-blank range in the 49th minute.
Rovers had struggled to make their numerical advantage count as Leeds employed tight marking, with strikers Rhodes and Gestede starved of clear-cut opportunities, but two goals in a seven-minute spell turned the game Rovers’ way.
The breakthrough arrived in the 62nd minute. Lee Williamson’s long pass down the right found Gestede, who gave Giuseppe Bellusci the slip before Cairney shot powerfully past Silvestri.
Gestede limped off to be replaced by Chris Brown in the 64th minute and a minute later Marshall’s long-distance shot smacked against a post.
Leeds were rocking and they conceded again in the 69th minute. Cairney picked out Brown, whose accurate cross left the unmarked Rhodes the simple task of heading home for his 17th goal of the season.
Then, in the 80th minute, Bellusci allowed Spearing time and room to drill in the third.