Cape Town - Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock admitted that the Lions defence stopped the Super Rugby leaders from getting going in Christchurch.
The Lions beat the Crusaders 12-3 on Saturday.
Control of the contest at the set-piece and in defence from the Lions led to Warren Gatland's side bouncing back from the defeat to the Blues earlier in the week.
Whitelock, part of a tight five made all up of All Blacks forwards, paid credit to the Lions for getting a hold on the game early, while admitting frustration amongst his own side at not being able to play with their usual flair.
"Our mistakes let them into the game and they are a quality side," Whitelock told Sky Sports.
"Their guys have played a lot of Test rugby and they squeezed us out through taking the easy three at the start, and from there we were trying to play catch-up rugby which plays into their hands.
"We're not happy with the way we played, but full credit to the Lions boys. They didn't allow us to get our rhythm and our flow going, and we struggled because of that."
Whitelock also noted the physicality of the contest, which failed to produce tries for either side, adding that he took plenty of enjoyment from the style of the game.
"There were some big shots out there from both sides," he added.
"Our boys enjoyed getting off the line and they were doing the same. It wasn't the most expansive rugby but great fun to play in and no doubt to watch."