A 69th minute point by substitute Peter Hogan sent Waterford through to the Allianz Hurling League quarter-finals following a well-contested encounter at Walsh Park, finishing 0-17 to 0-16 in the end.
The Ballygunner attacker danced clear of the chasing Galway cover to send Liam Cahill's charges into the knock-out stages, while the visitors were left to rue a wide count (12) which doubled that of the hosts.
At the break, having had the breeze to their backs, the hosts led by three points (0-11 to 0-08) in front of a 3,652-strong gate.
Patrick Curran found his range to open the scoring after five minutes following a mis-cued James Skehill puck-out.
A minute later, Stephen Bennett doubled Waterford's advantage following a deep downfield ball by goalkeeper Billy Nolan, with Brian Concanon landing Galway’s first point from the Tribesmen’s next attack.
Galway corner-back Sean Loftus restored parity by the eighth minute following fine work by Concannon, only for Jack Fagan to restore Waterford’s lead within 60 seconds.
The end-to-end nature of the contest didn’t relent as Galway levelled immediately through Conor Whelan, whose well-struck shot landed on the roof of Nolan’s net.
Galway nosed ahead for the first time after 13 minutes thanks to a Tadhg Haran free from just inside the Déise 65, with home skipper Pauric Mahony drawing the sides level 90 seconds later with a free of his own.
The first goalscoring opportunity of the afternoon came Galway’s way in the 16th minute but an overcooked Conor Whelan hand pass left Sean Bleahane with little chance of capitalising on a decent opening.
Mahony restored Waterford’s advantage after Darren Morrissey took down Jack Prendergast only for Galway to again find a near immediate response from Conor Whelan, following fine support play by Adrian Touhy.
Jack Fagan, fed by the lively Barron, put Waterford back in front after 20 minutes, with Bleahane responding with a well-struck effort from the left flank following Sean Cooney’s pass.
Brian Concannon edged Galway ahead following a poor puck-out by Billy Nolan, with Mahony (another free) drawing the sides level again after 21 minutes.
Tadhg Haran’s 25th minute free sent Galway narrowly ahead but between then and the interval, Waterford found their scoring groove, adding four unanswered points, the pick of them scored by Calum Lyons following a brilliant intervention by Jamie Barron.
After the break, the contest ebbed and flowed, with Tadhg Haran’s 36th minute free opening proceedings.
The impressive Cathal Mannion and Pauric Mahony (via a 65) traded points in the 40th and 42nd minutes before Barron and Mahony (twice) extended Waterford’s advantage to five points by the 50th minute.
But Galway, driven on by Mannion, were far from done and roared back into contention thanks to a brace of Conor Whelan points in the 51st and 54th minutes.
Captain Mahony steadied the homester’s ship when converting his sixth free in the 55th minute but the late momentum was being generally generated by the Tribesemen.
Substitute Evan Niland turned over a 62nd minute free and when Cathal Mannion capitalised on Jack Fagan’s hooked clearance, only two points separated the sides with six minutes of regulation time remaining.
Mannion pointed again in the 66th minute and when Niland landed a 68th minute point, awarded for alleged jersey tugging on Conor Prunty’s behalf, the sides were level yet again.
But when the industrious Hogan found his range with less than a minute of normal time remaining, Waterford edged ahead by the minimum to maintain the new management team’s early season momentum.
Waterford: B Nolan; S Fives, C Prunty, S McNulty; C Lyons (0-01), A Gleeson (0-01f), K Moran (0-01); C Gleeson, P Mahony (0-08; 0-05f, 0-01 65), N Montgomery, J Barron (0-01), J Fagan (0-02); J Prendergast, S Bennett (0-01), P Curran (0-01).
Subs used: P Hogan (0-01) for P Curran (HT), MJ Sutton for C Gleeson (Blood, 57-61), MJ Sutton for N Montgomery (63), D Hutchinson for S Bennett (68).
Galway: JSkehill; DMorrissey, G McInerney, S Loftus (0-01); PMannion, S Cooney, F Burke; CMannion (0-03), A Tuohy; NBurke, B Concannon (0-02), T Haran (0-03f); S Bleahane (0-01), CWhelan (0-04), C Cooney.
Subs used: S Linnane for P Mannion (18), J Flynn for S Bleahane (44), C Walsh for C Cooney (50), E Niland (0-02f) for T Haran (56), TJ Brennan for F Burke (66)
Referee: James Owens (Wexford)