Maro Itoje believes England will learn a “valuable lesson” after they fell agonisingly short of registering a famous victory over New Zealand as a narrow second-half lead ebbed away in a 16-15 loss in Dunedin.

The Saracens star scored the opening try for Steve Borthwick’s tourists who were kept in the first half by their spirited defence as the All Blacks threatened to cut loose, but they went into half-time all-square at 10-10.

Fly-half Marcus Smith endured a poor day off the kicking tee but his running skills were at the heart of Immanuel Feyi-Waboso’s 47th-minute try that nudged them 15-10 ahead in a gripping series opener at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

England have triumphed on New Zealand soil on only two previous occasions and joining the heroes of 1973 and 2003 was the tantalising prospect before them as they pressed for another score.

But the All Blacks crept back in front through two penalties from Damian McKenzie to reward their superiority at the breakdown.

"Our scrum probably wasn't good enough in the second half, we gave the ball away too easily and we didn't exit as well as we wanted but it was a good effort - we just need to be better,” the former Harpenden St George’s School pupil told the England Rugby website.

"We wanted to raise the intensity and I think we did that at the start of the second half but we let a few inaccuracies slip into our game and we allowed them to get back into it.

"We know the All Blacks are a good team, they play good rugby, they are a physical team so it wasn't anything they did that was surprising they just did it very well.

"Every game is an experience, every game is something to build from and learn from and we were two points from winning that game - if a result happened in the last phase of the game it could have gone the other way, but it is what it is, we will lick our wounds and get better. This will be a valuable lesson for us."

England will be looking to bounce back when the two nations meet for the second Test at Eden Park, in Auckland, on Saturday.