Queensland have warmed up for the Super Rugby Pacific finals and condemned the NSW to one last deflating defeat with a thrilling 27-26 win over the wooden spooners in Sydney.

The Reds resisted a spirited second-half fightback from the Waratahs to hold on and secure the Bob Templeton Cup in the latest compelling edition of Australian rugby's longest and fiercest interstate rivalry on Friday night.

Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt was in the stands at Allianz Stadium and might well have put a line through any NSW players he previously had in mind for the upcoming Test season had he left at halftime with the visitors dominating and leading 19-0.

The Waratahs' depleted front-row stocks have been well documented this season, with even former Wallabies prop Paddy Ryan answering and SOS call from outgoing coach Darren Coleman to make a one-off cameo after returning from a stint in Japan.

But the NSW forwards couldn't be blamed for the Reds running rings around the Waratahs backline in an embarrassing opening 40 minutes for departing stars Izaia Perese, who is off to France, and the NRL-bound Mark Nawaqanitawase.

Tate McDermott's softest of tries in the 18th minute typified the Tahs' woeful season.

With the hosts caught napping like schooboys after conceding a penalty in front of their sticks and expecting the Reds to take a shot at goal, McDermott opted for a quick tap instead and crossed for the easiest try of his career.

His 27th five-pointer also moved the halfback past Samu Kerevi and Scott Higginbottam into third on Queensland's all-time Super Rugby try-scorers' list, behind only Chris Latham (41) and Ben Tune (31).

McDermott's effort followed early tries from classy centre Josh Flook and lock Seru Uru earned the Reds their 19-point lead at the break.

But one last halftime spray from Coleman fired the home side up for a second-half revival.

Not even the Reds' fourth try in the 49th minute to Hunter Paisami could stop the Waratahs from surging to a 26-24 lead with replies from winger Dyland Pietsch, impressive five-eighth Jack Bowen and forwards Jed Holloway and Jay Fono Kalafi.

Alas, the Waratahs' lead lasted but two minutes as a Tom Lynagh penalty goal nudged the visitors back in front.

Bowen, the son of former Waratahs and Wallabies No.10 Scott Bowen, had the chance to steal it but hooked a 79th-minute penalty goal attempt before the Reds defended desperately for more than 20 phases at the death to hold on.

While the Waratahs' season is over, the fifth-placed Reds will head to Waikato next week to face the fourth-placed Chiefs in a knockout quarter-final.

Reds 27 (Tries: Uru, McDermott, Flook, Paisami; Cons: Creighton 2; Pens: Lynagh) def Waratahs 26 (Tries: Holloway, Fonokalafi, Bowen, Pietsch; Cons: Bowen 3)



Waratahs: 15 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 14 Triston Reilly, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Jack Bowen, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Langi Gleeson, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Miles Amatosero, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Tom Ross, 2 Jay Fonokalafi, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Ben Sugars, 17 Lewis Ponini, 18 Brad Amituanai, 19 Hugh Sinclair, 20 Fergus Lee-Warner, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Tane Edmed, 23 Izaia Perese.

Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Tim Ryan, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Mac Grealy, 10 Lawson Creighton, 9 Tate McDermott (co-captain), 8 Joe Brial, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (co-captain), 5 Seru Uru, 4 Connor Vest, 3 Zane Nonggor, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 19 Ryan Smith, 20 John Bryant, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Tom Lynagh, 23 Taj Annan.

Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon
TMO: Chris Hart