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.
Despite he and a number of his team mates playing out of position, Greig Laidlaw's four penalties were enough to help Gloucester to a 12-11 Aviva Premiership win at Sale on Friday evening. The skipper told GRTV after the game that everyone had played their part, especially the younger players.
Greig Laidlaw skippers the Cherry and Whites on Friday evening, when they head to Sale Sharks for the penultimate game of this season's Aviva Premiership. The Scottish half back spoke to GRTV about the challenge posed in Salford.
Previewing Friday night's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Sale Sharks, Head Coach Laurie Fisher acknowledged the fine home record that the Salford based outfit have built up this season, but is looking for Gloucester to round off their campaign on a high note.
Speaking to GRTV following the 16-9 victory over Exeter, Tom Savage felt that Gloucester needed that win after a tough few weeks and hopes that it acts as a springboard to a good end to the season for the Cherry and Whites.
A week on from '...letting down ourselves, the jersey and the supporters...', skipper Greig Laidlaw was full of praise for his team mates following the 16-9 Aviva Premiership win over Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm on Friday evening.
Four penalties from the boot of skipper Greig Laidlaw were just enough to see Gloucester dog out a tense 12-11 win at Sale on Friday evening and thwart the home team's attempts to finish the season unbeaten at home.
Thirteen years on from Gloucester Rugby's famous Powergen Cup victory over Northampton at Twickenham, many of the players and management from that side are gathering once more to recreate that famous day.