Cassandra Koppen says Merewether must find another gear as they prepare for a semi-final showdown with Warners Bay after beating South Wallsend 4-1 at Walker Fields yon Sunday to finish third.
The Herald Women's Premier League heads into home-and-away semi-finals next weekend with the fourth-placed Wolves doing battle with minor premiers New Lambton over two legs for the other place in the championship decider at Weston on September 1.
The Eagles finished top of the table with 56 points after beating Thornton 3-1 at Alder Park on Sunday.
Jenna Kingsley scored six goals and Cassidy Davis a hat-trick as second-placed Warners Bay (47) won 9-1 over Mid North Coast at John Street Oval.
Only two points separated Merewether and South Wallsend heading into the final round but the back-to-back champions finished five points clear on 43 points with the win.
United led 3-1 at the break after Rhali Dobson, Tamara Nash and Leah Giuffre all scored before South Wallsend's MJ Mason, in her first appearance since June 19, found the back of the net.
Mason has been away but her return was a positive for a side who have been hard hit by injuries in the second half of the season. Dobson extended the lead with a classy left-footed strike midway through the second half.
The semi-finals begin August 18 with Merewether and South Wallsend hosting the first legs.
"It was a good game in tough conditions; it's hard to play here," Koppen said.
"It was good to get the win but we need to lift the intensity. We finished well but could've got a couple more, which could cost us in important games.
"We needed to work on a couple of things from the Warners Bay game last weekend, which we did today and we'll just carry that into training this week and the match next weekend. It's important to get a result in the first game against Warners Bay."
South Wallsend were without a number of players and coach Cas Wright said "consolidation" had remained the focus ahead of the finals.
Wallsend beat Adamstown 2-0 at The Gardens in the other final-round clash on Sunday.
Round 21 results:
Merewether 4 (Rhali Dobson 2, Tamara Nash, Leah Giuffre) beat South Wallsend 1 (MJ Mason) at Walker Fields. Half-time: Merewether led 3-1.
Warners Bay 9 (Jenna Kingsley 6, Cassidy Davis 3) defeated Mid North Coast 1 (Layni Fens) at John Street Oval. Half-time: Warners Bay led 6-1.
New Lambton 3 (Lauren Allan, Georgia Amess, Tara Andrews) beat Thornton 1 (Sophie Milton) at Alder Park. Half-time: New Lambton led 2-1.
Wallsend 2 (Alesha Clifford, Keea Parrish) defeated Adamstown 0 at The Gardens. Half-time: Wallsend led 1-0.
Points: New Lambton 56, Warners Bay 47, Merewether 43, South Wallsend 38, Wallsend 35, Adamstown 13, Thornton 7, Mid North Coast 7.