How battle of bench bomb squads can be key to England vs South Africa

How the battle of the bench bomb squads could hold the key to England’s colossal semi-final clash with South Africa as Steve Borthwick’s side look to get revenge for 2019 final defeat

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While South Africa are often renown for their firepower off the bench, it appears England have adopted a similar tactic ahead of their massive semi-final clash on Saturday. 

Eyebrows were raised when lock Ollie Chessum and props Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler were dropped to the bench in favour of George Martin, Joe Marler and Dan Cole.

But it appears manager Steve Borthwick has a plan – to bring a significant physical impact off the bench during the second half.  

At his best, vice-captain Ellis Genge is a rampaging forward and real running threat


Ellis Genge: Loosehead prop

One of England’s vice-captains, the Bristolian has become used to starting in a white shirt with Joe Marler coming off the bench. 

Steve Borthwick has switched their roles for South Africa and you could make a very good argument to say Genge is more suited to finishing the game. 

When at his best, he is a rampaging forward and if given space, he is a real running threat. England will hope Marler can tire South Africa out before Genge is unleashed.

Kyle Sinckler: Tighthead prop 

Sinckler is another Bristol prop but, unlike Genge, he has become used to starting on the bench at this World Cup. Not that he will be happy about it. 

England have 172 caps on their tighthead side with Dan Cole starting and Sinckler coming on. 

It is a wealth of knowhow although it must be remembered South Africa are fielding the most experienced side in their history. Unless injury strikes Cole early, Sinckler will appear in the second half.

England’s Kyle Sinckler, who is a tighthead prop, has been used to starting off the bench so far

Ollie Chessum: Second Row 

When England were struggling badly in the first half of the year, the emergence of Chessum was a bright note amid the doom. 

He is a hugely promising forward. At 23, he should be around for the next two World Cups, too. 

Borthwick’s decision to bench Chessum and start George Martin is something of a surprise. England’s locks will have their hands full against the monstrous Springbok trio of Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert and RG Snyman. 


Deon Fourie: Hooker/Flanker

Not one of the most famous names of the South African ‘Bomb Squad’ but with Malcolm Marx injured, he plays a key role in being able to cover both hooker and back row. 

He is most likely to come on for Bongi Mbonambi in the No 2 shirt against England. But in the quarter-final with France, Fourie replaced his captain Siya Kolisi on the flank. 

Ox Nche: Loosehead prop

With his motto of ‘salads don’t win scrums’ and a love of chocolate cake, Nche is never going to be in the good books with South Africa’s team dietician. 

‘I don’t count calories, I count slices of cake!’ Nche told Mail Sport ahead of the World Cup. At 18 stone, Nche is a fearsome scrummager. 

He made a huge impact at the set-piece in his team’s win over France. Expect him to replace the red-haired Steven Kitshoff early in the second half this weekend.

Former Saracens prop Vincent Koch will be well aware of Owen Farrell when the sides meet

Vincent Koch: Tighthead prop 

The former Saracens and Wasps prop will know this England team very well after his time in the Gallagher Premiership. 

He is a former club-mate of the likes of Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje. 

Koch is yet another brutal scrummager whose ability means South Africa’s set-piece strength never diminishes whoever is on the field. 

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