Morgan Cibilic’s right pinky toe might be known as the “Toe of God” in Merewether from now on. After breaking his littlest piggy on Tuesday, Morgan showed no signs of discomfort as he took the scalp of current world number one, John John Florence, in today’s Round of 32.

The champ and the underdog went blow for blow in what was easily the most exciting heat of the Ripcurl Newcastle Cup so far. Sparks were flying as Morgan’s powerful rail game was in full effect, with the crowd riding him on every manoeuvre. There were even a few subdued cheers from the Merewether Boardriders tent when JJF came unstuck on some uncharacteristically mistimed airs.

Better than a phone call from Mick Fanning! Photo: Tom Hoy

Morgan has probably put in thousands of hours off the Rocks over the years, and today he made every skerrick of experience count. Although John John was justifiably the favourite, this was always Morgan’s heat to win. When he conjured a juicy exclamation mark with a nine-point ride in the dying minutes, the crowd went up as if Joey Johns had just set up Darren Albert to win the 1997 grand final. And as anyone within earshot of the Merewether old boys would’ve heard; Morgan didn’t just beat John John, he smoked him.

Such was Morgan’s emphatic victory, the Ripcurl merch tent sold out of Cibilic jerseys almost as soon as the heat had ended. With all the pressure on Ryan Callinan to bring home the trophy for the locals, Morgan has fired out a fair dinkum warning that he’s not here to just make up the numbers.

Florence's stick rate abandoned him this morning in Newcastle. Photo: Tom Hoy

Still riding the high of the Cibilic demolition job, 200 locals turned out in light blue “R-Cal” shirts to see the hometown hero take on Crosby Colapinto. When Billabong contacted Merewether Surfboard Club Vice President, Cal Horton, about providing 200 shirts to promote the stoke, Cal told them they’d more likely need 400. Unsurprisingly, the shirts were quickly gobbled up as Ryan sent Crosby packing with another clinical Rocks performance. The announcers summed it up well when they said, “thanks for coming to Newcastle, Crosby. See you next time.”

With two wins already notched up for the Merewether Surfboard Club, local wildcard Jacko Baker came up against reigning champ Ítalo Ferreira. It was always going to be a tough assignment, with Jacko doing his hometown proud in a narrow defeat. He’ll only be better for the experience in what was his first CT event. Let’s hope it’s the first of many for Jacko.

As we look towards some mouth-watering matchups to come in both the Men’s and Women’s draw, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope for contestable conditions over the few remaining days. Yesterday, on yet another unexpected lay day, I bumped into Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, who offered up some sage advice for the comp’s organisers; “they should take the forecast, rip it up and throw it away.” One thing we can be sure of, though, is a hell of a lot more number 20 Cibilic jerseys on the sand from now on.