The defending champion Blues have withstood a second half onslaught from the Western Force to record a thrilling 22-18 win in Perth.

The visitors looked like they were going to cruise away with the game as they took a 22-8 lead into the break

However, the Force refused to give up and found a way back into the game with tries to Jeremy Thrush and Bo Abra.

With time long expired, the hosts had one final chance to attack, putting together 26 phases on the Blues' goal-line.

In the end, the ladder-leaders found a way to cause the turnover and secure the win.

The hosts were intent to make up for lost time after last week's cancellation, taking advantage of a yellow card to Sam Darry as Manasa Mataele scored in the corner.

Even down a man, the Blues were in control of the contest for the majority of the game and Darry's return was capped with a try to the lock in the 17th minute.

Making his first start in 2022, All Black Akira Ioane proved deadly from close range as the Blues raced away with the lead, sealing the dominant first-half performance with an aerobatic try to AJ Lam.

When Santiago Medrano was yellow carded for one too many penalties, the Trans-Tasman champions looked like they were about to send a message to the rest of the competition.

However, Tim Sampson got the fight he asked for in the half-time break, surviving a charge from Anton Segner before withholding a number of attacks to keep themselves in the game.

Veteran lock Jeremy Thrush sparked the comeback as he dived over from close, with Thrush and Izack Rodda causing chaos at line-out time.

When Bo Abra crossed with five minutes to go, it set up a grandstand finish, with Bayley Kuenzle's third missed conversion of the night proving costly.

As the Force hunted for the winner, one final lineout error from the Blues gifted them the ball inside their territory, building phase after phase on their goal-line.

In scenes reminiscent of a fortnight ago, the phases climbed into the 20s as the Force looked for anyway through the line.

Unfortunately for the Sea of Blue, the Blues found a way to turn the ball over and come away with the hard-fought victory, cementing their spot on top of the ladder.

Blues 24 (Tries: Darry, Ioane, Lam, Pens: Barrett 1, Cons: Barrett 2) Force 18 (Tries: Mataele, Thrush, Abra, Cons: Kuenzle)

Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Reesjan Pasitoa, 9 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 8 Ollie Callan, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Ryan McCauley, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu'u (captain), 1 Tom Robertson.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Bo Abra, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Tim Anstee, 21 Alex Masibaka, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Richard Kahui.

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 AJ Lam, 13 Bryce Heem, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Anton Segner, 7 Dalton Papalii (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 James Tucker, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Taufa Funaki, 22 Tanielu Tele'a, 23 Mark Telea.

Referee: Angus Gardner

Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Jordan Kaminski

TMO: Kyle Burnett