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 to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
The Gloucester Rugby Ticket office can advise that the club's initial allocation of tickets for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final has sold out. However, the club has secured an additional allocation of tickets from EPCR which will go on sale on Monday.
Following Saturday evening's exciting European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Exeter Chiefs, the Ticket Office at Kingsholm will be open on Sunday from 11am to 3pm for Club Members to purchase tickets for the Final.
Gloucester Rugby qualified for their first European final since 2006 as they defeated the in-form Exeter Chiefs by 30 points to 19 in a thrilling semi-final at Kingsholm on Saturday evening. The club photographer caught the best of the action.
Recent meetings between these two teams have often been thrillers, and this was no exception. It went down to the final few minutes, but Gloucester produced the goods when it mattered to qualify for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final, beating Exeter 30-19.