The Crusaders moved into the play-off positions when the beat the Lions 23-13 at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Both sides stayed true to their attacking instincts by giving the ball plenty of air but were guilty of committing too many errors.
Although there was plenty of action during the first half, the game's opening points only came in the 19th minute when Butch James landed a penalty which Tom Taylor cancelled out, with a place-kick of his own, a short while later.
The latter part of the half saw both teams scoring tries with Zac Guildford dotting in the 31st minute after running onto an inside pass from Dan Carter close to the tryline, before Patric Cilliers barged over the whitewash from close quarters five minutes later.
James slotted the conversion to give his side a 13-10 lead at the break.
But the Crusaders stepped up a gear when they came out of the changing rooms and were rewarded shortly after the restart when Sean Maitland dived onto a beautifully weighted grubber kick from Israel Dagg behind the home side's tryline.
Taylor converted to give his team the lead again and from there seven-time champions never relinquished their grip on the match.
The Christchurch-based franchise's backs, particularly Dagg and Guildford, looked dangerous on attack but they could not break down the Lions' defence for the rest of the match.
The hosts were also chasing the win but in their quest to add to their points tally they committed too many indiscretions and when it was in goal-kicking range Taylor punished them.
He added two further penalties which sealed the win for the Crusaders but the Lions had an opportunity to secure a bonus point for losing by less than seven points in injury time but James missed with his penalty attempt.
The win has moved the Crusaders into sixth position on the table while the Lions are in joint last place with the Rebels.
Pens: James 2
Tries: Guildford, Maitland
Cons: Taylor 2
Pens: Taylor 3
Lions: 15 James Kamana, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Andries Coetzee, 10 Butch James, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss (c), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Marius Coetzer, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Stephan Greeff, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Ryan Crotty, 22 Tom Marshall.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)