With surprising line-ups from both teams, the stage was set for exciting and unpredictable match-up at the Skycity Theatre. With hot favourites, the unbeaten Tiger Brokers Tigers, taking on the spirited Starship Rockets, the crowd was in for a treat of quality badminton.
Well-known now for intense and nail-biting rallies, the first game of the afternoon did not disappoint. Rockets trio Abhinav Manota, Dylan Soedjasa and Alyssa Tagle started well with attacking play, but it was the Tigers’ Edward Lau, Jack Wang and Roanne Apalisok who eventually took the first game 14-12. A change in tactical plan from the Rockets saw them steal the second and third games in comfortable fashion, banking the first match of the finals 12-14 11-7 11-5.
Manota and Lau were back on court for the highly-anticipated Men’s Singles - the first clash between these two stars in the 2021 season. Manota was quick to take an early lead, winning the crowd with his control of the shuttle, and leaving Lau to scramble left, right and centre. Manota closed out the match in convincing form, 11-8 11-8.
Spurred on by the Rockets' 2-0 lead, Catelyn Rozario played with confidence in the opening game of the Women’s Singles, however a change in pace from Courtney Trillo halted Rozario’s run, with the Tigers claiming their first match of the final 6-11 11-4 11-6.
The Men’s Doubles saw the return of Tigers’ impressive Lau and Wang, facing scratch Rockets' pairing Ricky Cheng and Jonathan Curtin. The Tigers tried and true pairing proved beneficial, drawing the tie at 2-all with an 11-5 11-7 win.
The Women’s Doubles was a topsy-turvy affair, with Tagle and Rozario seizing the opening game before a lapse in their concentration allowed Apalisok and Trillo to draw level in the second. The Rockets returned to form in the deciding game, to win 11-7 3-11 11-8.
Tagle and Soedjasa could smell their victory from the moment they stepped onto the mixed doubles court. With an energetic and vocal performance from Soedjasa, the Rockets duo dismantled Josh Feng and Apalisok in a speedy 11-4 11-5 to lift the Barfoot and Thompson New Zealand Badminton League title, to the delight of the crowd.
Soedjasa’s performances throughout the grand final saw him crowned Crystal Ashley Match Day MVP, while the Tiger's Jack Wang secured enough points to edge clear of teammate Edward Lau in the race for the Crystal Ashley Season MVP.