SPORTS fanatics in Muswellbrook will be spoiled this weekend, with the Cats adding to the list of clubs hosting play-offs.
Despite dropping the final match to Warners Bay in devastating fashion, losing by just one point, the Black Diamond Plate team will get to play in front of a home crowd at Weeraman Field on Saturday, August 24.
The achievement is quite extraordinary considering the difficulty they faced in making finals, having only played seven of their first 13 matches due to a mix of byes and forfeits.
However, they stormed home in the second half of the year by winning five of their last six AFL matches and slotting into sixth place, allowing them to play The Entrance Bateau Bay in the semi.
One of the key components in that winning formula was Cameron Benkovic, who has led by example for much of the season.
The vice-captain's guided the team more times than anyone else due to ongoing injury issues for regular skipper Matt Dunn - and said the squad had developed some great confidence heading into the play-offs.
"The boys have been really showing up at training and putting the hard yards in, we beat Bateau Bay two weeks ago, so that's a bit of momentum going into this weekend especially," he stated.
"We're lucky that we've still got a lot of guys who played in our grand final side a few years ago.
"So, there's a bit of experience there, and there's a lot of blokes around the club that have played a bit of semi-finals football before.
"But, in saying that, we do have a lot of younger guys who haven't experienced semi-final or finals football, in AFL especially.
"So, there's nerves but it's good nerves so everyone is happy and getting around each other which is good."
The 27-year-old has been in top form this season after getting a clean run with injuries, and has been consistently impacting matches from the midfield.
He's played 14 games and found himself among the best on ground in half of those, while chipping in with six majors over the 2019 campaign - making him the side's fourth highest goal scorer.
The Cats kick off at 9:45 am in their second consecutive year hosting the semi-final fixture, and that will be followed by a match between Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca in the Haval Women's competition at midday.
Finally, a showdown between Killarney Vale and Singleton, who finished fourth and fifth respectively in the Haval Black Diamond Cup, will begin at 2:15 pm.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.