EVERY minute matters - that's the way Super League has been promoted over the past few years.

And the evidence was never clearer than in Monday night's 12-10 loss to Salford at Headingley, a contest Kristian Woolf's youthful side were impressively leading for 72 minutes.

One sketchy play-the-ball from an otherwise impressive Dom Peyroux just before the interval allowed man mountain Pauli Pauli an opportunity to trample his way over and give lifeblood to Salford.

And then five minutes from time, after a spell in which Saints failed to manage the game properly, Krisnan Inu crashed over for the only try of the second half and banged over the touchline conversion to steal victory.

Saints, with five debutants in the 17 and a host of other rising young stars on the field, will reflect on chances they created and did not take besides the one that counted - a third-minute first try in the red vee for ex-Clock Face junior Josh Eaves on his maiden start at hooker.

Among them was Peyroux being held up over the line and both Jack Ashworth and Tom Nisbet losing the ball in the act of scoring.

Nisbet's missed opportunity in the closing stages was particularly gut-wrenching as the 20-year-old former Newton Storm junior looked to have done everything right.

As cover started to come across the debutant winger dived early but as he did so somehow the ball popped up from his grasp before he slid over the line.

It would almost certainly have made a difference, but so could three or four better last-tackle plays by Saints over the same period and so was not the reason why Saints' 10-match unbeaten run came to an end.

The loss should not detract from the real highlight of the night, which was a peak into Saints' future.

Woolf's backline included Ben Davies and Nico Rizzelli on debut, with forwards Matty Foster and Jake Wingfield also getting a first taste of the top flight off the bench, while young half-back Lewis Dodd and centre Josh Simm caught the eye again.

It's credit to the club's philosophy, structures and coaching standards that the young players looked ready for Super League – even more so that they had not played since March due to Covid's impact on Academy and Reserves rugby.

Bring on the future!

Saints: Matthew Costello; Nico Rizzelli, Josh Simm, Ben Davies, Tom Nisbet; Jack Welsby, Lewis Dodd; Alex Walmsley, Josh Eaves, Joe Batchelor, Joseph Paulo, Dominique Peyroux, James Graham. Subs: Jack Ashworth, Aaron Smith, Matthew Foster, Jake Wingfield.