The scoreline of 20-15 in favour of the World Champions only told half the story, as the English were the better team throughout, but will rue the failure to convert try-scoring opportunities against the All Blacks.
Gloucester Rugby trio Ben Morgan, Jonny May and the departing Freddie Burns put in massive shifts and the England squad on the whole, without their Aviva Premiership finalists, deserved more from a brave performance in Auckland.
Burns kicked four penalties out of four, whilst Morgan and May made plenty of sparkling breaks against their illustrious opponents, and all looked well at home in the top class test arena.
England started the brighter in Auckland, and a sharp break from Chris Robshaw saw Ma'a Nonu cynically pull back James Haskell in support, surely a yellow was deserved, but Burns confidently chipped over from the tee.
That was then cancelled out as the All Blacks' pivot Aaron Cruden kicked a three points of his own with England offside from a neat Ben Smith break.
Shortly after, Manu Tuilagi had to be alert to cover as Smith chipped through for Dagg as the game was played at a blistering pace and England's combinations began to click.
Burns then notched himself a pair of penalties from impressive range to put the tourists into a 3-9 lead, as the All Blacks struggled to cope with England's tempo of play.
Cruden then reduced the deficit to 6-9 after Robshaw infringed at the breakdown and the sparring match continued. The outside half from Waikato then repeated the trick to level the scores at nine apiece going into the break.
With the All Blacks looking rusty on their first outing of 2014, England sensed a real opportunity and the second half was a real tussle, littered with handling errors and picky decision making which stifled any continuity.
With England under pressure near their own try line after Jerome Kaino knocked on with a score imminent, Ben Morgan made a stunning break off the base to make 30m, which gave Kyle Eastmond the chance to scuttle brilliantly past Nonu but the Bath Rugby man's pass found no one with a score looking certain.
On the hour mark, Burns and May combined and the winger chipped ahead to blitz away and capitalise on Beauden Barrett's slip, the All Blacks cynically killed the ball and didn't realise the England wing, and Burns knocked over his fourth penalty although no yellow card was forthcoming for the hosts.
Cruden, then almost immediately responded with a penalty of his own to level the scores at twelve apiece, and then the Kiwis upped the tempo to earn another chance from the tee, which saw Marland Yarde sinbinned, and Cruden obliged.
With Burns withdrawn from the action, Danny Cipriani's sharp break was rewarded with a penalty and the returning pivot confidently levelled the scores.
The All Blacks then forced Joe Marler to hold on in English territory, and Cruden caught England napping for a quick tap. As England scrambled, Wyatt Crockett's short range effort was just short, but from the next scrum, the ball was neatly worked to Conrad Smith who dived over in the corner.
Although Cruden failed to convert, there was only seconds on the clock and the All Blacks saw out time to scrape the win however, with the cavalry arriving for next week's test in Dunedin, it would be the English camp feeling slightly happier.
Speaking after the 37-8 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Benetton Treviso, James Hook admitted that the Italian side made things tough for Gloucester at times but that the Cherry and Whites are happy to take the bonus point win and turn their focus to Northampton next week.
Speaking to GRTV after the game, Backs Coach Tim Taylor was happy with the squad as they cruised to victory over Treviso. The result wasn't in doubt, but the Cherry and Whites laboured to secure a crucial try bonus point.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby centre Matt Scott is excited to take the field again as the Cherry and Whites look to build on the win in Bayonne when Treviso come to Kingsholm this Saturday.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
The Gloucester Rugby Half Term Rugby Camps got off to a great start on Monday morning, with over 60 young rugby players braving the chilly weather to experience a great day of skills, learning and fun thanks to the Gloucester Rugby Community Department.
A number of Gloucester Rugby's promising young players are currently playing their competitive rugby on loan at other clubs, and six of them featured in Saturday's game between London Welsh and Rotherham Titans.
Gloucester made it two wins from two outings in this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup as they outplayed Benetton Treviso at Kingsholm to win by 37 points to 8, the bonus point try coming with the final play of the game.