The Reds scored two tries to one to secure victory in the all-Australian match at the Sydney Football Stadium and move into second place in the table with two rounds to go.
NSW led 10-9 at half-time but failed to maintain the momentum after the interval as Queensland ran in 21 points to three. The flanker Mark Murray and winger Damian Smith scored tries for Queensland while the fly-half Nathan Spooner kicked six penalties and a conversion for a personal haul of 20 points. NSW's lone try came through the winger Matt Dowling while fly-half Manuel Edmonds booted a conversion and two penalties.
The result means Queensland may need to win just one of their remaining two games, which are both at home, to make the semi-finals. Despite losing, NSW can still make the play-offs if they win their final two matches and other results go their way.
Queensland host South Africa's Cats at Ballymore next Saturday while the Waratahs travel to New Zealand to play Wellington on Friday.
In Dunedin, the Otago Highlanders, leaders of the Super 12 for the entire campaign, scored a crucial 9-8 victory over ACT Brumbies on Saturday night.
Otago's win, by three Tony Brown penalties to a Patricio Noriega try and a Stirling Mortlock penalty, puts them on 34 points, eight ahead of South Africa's Stormers.
The victory puts the Highlanders on course for a home semi-final at Carisbrook.
The Brumbies could have snatched victory but Stirling Mortlock, who succeeded with just one of his six attempts at goal, missed two fairly easy penalties in the final 10 minutes.
"It was another get-out-of-jail match for us," the Otago captain,Taine Randell, said. "We didn't make it easy for ourselves. The Brumbies have been a real bogey side for us and we didn't get any bonus points tonight, but a win is very satisfying. The intensity was good - unfortunately we fell off a couple of tackles and fortunately they missed a couple of kicks."
The ACT coach, Eddie Jones, said: "We had our chances to win and only have ourselves to blame."Reuse content