Wollongong Wolves defender Nick Littler has conceded Wednesday night's shock loss will act as a wake-up call for the side.
The Wolves bid to complete the premiership-championship double hit a roadblock at WIN Stadium when they were defeated 1-0 by APIA Leichhardt in a match Wollongong were well below their best.
While acknowledging the Tigers produced an effective game plan to shut down the Wolves attacking threats, Littler said Wollongong were slightly off their game and they were made to pay for it.
"It's definitely a wake-up call," Littler said. "We smashed them twice this year, APIA. I think we came out and that was probably in the back of our minds a little bit.
"After the season we've had, to come out and play the way we did, it wasn't our best, that's disappointing. But now we just have to turn it around and hopefully get the win on Saturday."
The match was a physical affair, with APIA Leichhardt implementing a tight defensive structure to ensure the likes of Thomas James had minimal room to run.
The Wolves made a number of uncharacteristic errors in the first half, with defensive turnovers providing APIA with prime attacking opportunities.
Wollongong played with more intent in the second half and as the game started to open up, the Wolves generated opportunities of their own to break the deadlock.
Luke Wilkshire's men were unable to find the back of the net, however, and it was ultimately APIA Leichhardt's leading goal-scorer Chris Payne who produced the decisive strike in the 81st minute.
The major semi-final loss means the Wolves must now play in a sudden-death final against Sydney United 58 on Saturday afternoon if they are to progress to the grand final next weekend.
Sydney United 58 claimed a stunning 7-3 extra time victory over Blacktown on Wednesday night.
While disappointed with his team's performance, Wilkshire is confident the Wolves will learn a lot from the defeat.
"The first half didn't have enough intensity from us," Wilkshire said. "We gave the ball away in bad areas and we didn't do what we wanted to do in the first half. The second half was better, but without that cutting edge.
"We have to dust ourselves off now, we get another crack at it on the weekend. It's a quick turnaround, we'll do some recovery, we'll analyse the game and we'll be ready to go on the weekend."
The loss was just Wollongong's fourth in league play this season, with the Wolves bouncing back with a victory each time they fell throughout the year.
Having suffered the shock defeat, Littler said the team is determined to bounce back on Saturday and set up a rematch with the Tigers at Bankwest Stadium.
"We're confident we can turn it around and get the job done on Saturday," Littler said. "It's just a matter of playing a lot better than we did tonight, turning it around and playing the way we have all year."
While you're with us the Illawarra Mercury is offering sport readers 20% off an annual digital subscription. Sign up to stay up to date with all the local sports you love for only $3.00 a week. Terms and conditions apply.