Brumbies finally deliver while West steadies wobbly Hurricanes

The Brumbies finally showed that there's still some life left in the team from the nation's capital -- especially with David Pocock on the pitch -- as they look to close the gap on the conference-leading Rebels.

Elsewhere, the Hurricanes escaped the jaws of the Sharks despite Beauden Barrett's absence, and the Lions found their attacking mojo.

Read on for some of the major talking points from the weekend's action.

Australian Conference

Brumbies finally deliver

Fifteen points down after just 20 minutes in their crucial clash over the Reds, the Brumbies' season looked on the brink of destruction. But a second half resurgence has given rugby fans a glimmer of the Brumbies of old.

Under new coach Dan McKellar, the Brumbies have looked to play a more expansive game. But on Saturday night, the Brumbies returned to their favoured game plan of keeping the ball in tight, were rewarded for their efforts. Much cleaner at the set piece, the Brumbies maintained possession and territory and were finally rewarded with a rolling maul try all fans love to see.

David Pocock's return has had clear influence on the side with one of the world's best playing a key role in the Brumbies' comeback on Saturday night.

Respected by his teammates, he's a leader they're happy to follow and with numbers including 16 tackles and six runs, he makes sure to lead by example. His 77th minute try was just reward for a stellar performance.

Closing the gap on the Rebels and Waratahs at the top of the Australian conference, and leapfrogging the Reds, McKellar was pleased with the side's determination to turn the game around.

"We speak a lot about resilience; it's one of the pillars of of our club. I thought the boys showed a lot of that tonight - we had to," McKellar said. "Even at 15-0 down, I thought our defensive effort was excellent; it was a couple of one-on-one missed tackles and clearance coming out of our end."

Now just six points behind the ladder leading Rebels, the Brumbies can't have the same start next week against the Highlanders if they want to continue to close the gap.

New Zealand Conference

Ihaia West steadies wobbly Hurricanes

The Sharks stunned the Blues in Auckland only a week ago, but not many people could have predicted just how close the Hurricanes would come to being shark chum.

After an attacking masterclass against the Rebels in Melbourne last week, the Hurricanes couldn't replicate against their South African opponents as they were outplayed for long periods of the clash.

Bouncing back after two early season losses on their South African tour, the Hurricanes turned their season around, going unbeaten in four games - including a strong win over reining champions Crusaders - but against the Sharks the Canes struggled to produce the complete performance.

With star playmaker Beauden Barrett a late scratching from the match, Ihaia West stood up in Barrett's absence and proved the difference for the Canes in the final minutes as they stole victory.

While not a complete performance from West, he was composed when it counted and had a hand in all of his side's tries, as well as tallying up 18 points with the boot.

It was West's long pass to Laumape in the closing minutes that resulted in the inside centre crashing over for the decisive try that gave West the chance to kick the match winning points.

The Hurricanes weren't pretty and it wasn't a brilliant win, but it was still a win, and without influential stars Barrett and TJ Perenara -- who was subbed at half time with a knee issue -- it was an important win.

"If you go through probably all the teams in the competition, the steadiness and the strength of your No. 2 and No. 3 nines and tens are crucial," Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said.

"You could say the Hurricanes are bit exposed to TJ and Beaudy [ever being absent] but you could say exactly the same thing about [Damian] McKenzie at the Chiefs or [Richie] Mo'unga at the Crusaders or [Lima] Sopoaga at the Highlanders."

Potentially without Barrett and Perenara again next week when they take on the Chiefs, the Hurricanes will need to brush off the close encounter and use the lessons learned to take down their New Zealand rivals.

South African Conference

Lions roar, Stormers regress

While the Lions found their attacking mojo on Saturday, the Stormers have regressed in terms of the quality of theirs. And, it's definitely got to do with the Cape Town team's mindset over the past few weeks.

On this past weekend, exactly a year ago, the Stormers produced their best performance in many years when they beat the Chiefs at Newlands. It was a fantastic display, which included a powerful performance by the forwards and the backs successfully having a go with ball in hand.

Their counter-attacking was excellent, and they scored one of the tries of the tournament when Dillyn Leyds' outrageous offload found SP Marais who ran in the try.

But on Saturday against the Lions they looked a far cry from that outfit, and instead looked the one-dimensional team who have struggled to make it past the playoff match over the last few years.

The Stormers attacked the Lions with one-off runners, which were easily picked off by the likes of Kwagga Smith and Malcolm Marx, who were just immense at the breakdown. Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse tried to make things happen, but he too didn't quite vary his game.

Willemse has got wonderful feet, but he tried to break too often against the Lions -- mostly because his strike-runners couldn't quite get enough momentum for the team to try and get through the Lions' rush defence.

The Stormers have gone back into their shell after a few defeats, an old South African problem. The Lions haven't been at their best over the last few weeks, but they backed their attack and strengths, which is competing hard at the breakdown and chancing their arm on attack.

Hopefully Robbie Fleck took some notes ...