Fuji Xerox Minerva AFC 14 - 6 Dentsu Club Caterpillars
Dentsu began the first X1 game in its history by burning a timeout before a single snap was taken.
Not the best of omens to be sure.
Four minutes into the game they gave up their first points when Minerva DL Yusuke Nakazono picked up a Caterpillars fumble and rumbled 30 yards for a TD.
As the delighted but winded Nakazono headed for the sidelines (he needed to take the next series off) it seemed like it might be a long day for Dentsu.
Credit to the newcomers though, they gave up only two more scores the rest of the way.
Caterpillars gained promotion to X1 with an overtime win in a playoff game against Metropolitan Police Eagles last December.
Given that they open their regular season with two games against Super 9 opponents though, it might be a while before Dentsu are in the win column again.
If they needed motivation for the season ahead Dentsu players need only have looked across at the other sideline. Without a single top division win in their history Minerva have now won four straight against X1 opponents.
With Big Blue up next that streak is almost certainly going to come to an end though. For Minerva to take the next step they will need to improve their passing game. 11 completions for just 44 yards with one TD and one INT against perhaps the weakest side in the division isn't good enough.
The old school combination of a decent running game and defense should keep Minerva in most games but with passing becoming increasingly dominant in modern football it's not a viable long term strategy.
Dentsu's Pearl Bowl campaign is already over but they have one more game against the bottom team in group D on June 6th before beginning preparations for the regular season.
- John Gunning: May 3rd 2018