The Crusaders, with a number of first-string players rested, laboured to a 46-19 victory over the Lions in Christchurch on Saturday.
It was not pretty rugby by any means. The Lions came to spoil everything and were effective at it for much of the game. Only early in the second half were the Crusaders able to pull away, dominating possession and wearing down the opposition.
They did not start well. Two quick penalties for unnecessary offences at rucks enabled Burton Francis to boot the Lions to a 6-0 lead as the visitors hit the ground running.
Colin Slade pulled one back as the Crusaders finally found a bit of territory and fluency, then Sean Maitland crossed for the first of his two tries, taking a superb outside line and striding home from 40m out.
While Slade couldn't land the conversion, he did boot a long-range penalty to give his side an 11-6 lead on the quarter-hour mark.
That should have been a healthy building block, but a lax moment around the fringes by the Crusaders in their own 22 allowed Hannes Frankin to sneak over under the posts unopposed and Francis' conversion gave the Lions the lead back.
Slade's third penalty saw the lead change hands again, and then it was Jonathan Poff taking an inside pass from Maitland who extended the home side's advantage.
The two fly-halves exchanged further penalties before the break of a match which struggled for rhythm throughout.
Slade extended the lead once more after 50 minutes, but it wasn't until Adam Whitelock scampered over off Crotty's pop pass on the hour that the home side looked comfortable.
Earl Rose's long-range penalty gave the Lions a flicker of hope, but the Crusaders dominated the final quarter. Maitland sealed the bonus point with five minutes to go and Willi Heinz salted the Lions' wounds with a tap-and-go dart for the fifth, right on the hooter.
Man of the match: Thomas Waldrom's lung-busting display earns him the MVP honours.
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Maitland 2, Poff, A.Whitelock, Heinz
Cons: Slade 3
Pens: Slade 5
For the Lions:
Pens: Francis 3, Rose
Crusaders: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Adam Whitelock, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Richie McCaw (c), 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Chris Jack, 19 George Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Daniel Carter, 22 Robbie Fruean.
Lions: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Wigan Pekeur, 13 Walter Venter, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Todd Clever, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar (c), 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 George Earle, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Charles Emslie, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Willem Stoltz, 19 Robert Kruger / Jacques Lombaard, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Carlos Spencer, 22 Michael Killian.
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Matthew Stanish (New Zealand), James McPhail (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)