The Light Blues 11 game winning run came to an end at Ibrox after conceding in the opening 20 minutes to the Saints.
That was added to by goals just before the half hour mark and then, crucially, within a minute of the second-half starting.
James Tavernier pegged one back with 30 minutes left to play but Gers couldn’t make their late pressure show, much to Ibrox’s frustration.
Rangers had started brightly, testing the Premiership outfit within the first minute. Alan Mannus was forced to palm away a tasty looking cross-come-shot and then Nathan Oduwa lashed a shot just wide in the same play.
But St Johnstone had come to test the Bears too and Simon Lappin tested Wes Foderingham, from outside the box, inside four minutes – trying to squeeze a fizzing shot between post and keeper. The former Swindon stopper was alert to the danger though to make a great save.
Ibrox roared for a penalty 10 minutes later when Dave Mackay brought down Oduwa but Kevin Clancy was quick to point for a corner kick. The Spurs youngster had skipped down the left with ease, after poking the ball past the onrushing Saints defence.
On 18 minutes though St Johnstone had the lead through Murray Davidson and some clever work from Steven MacLean. Michael O’Halloran had got to the by-line to cut back to striker MacLean and his intuitive back heel fell to the goalscorer. All Davidson had to do was poke the ball past Foderingham to put his side one up.
And just three minutes later they should have doubled their lead when MacLean blazed over in front of an open goal. With Andy Halliday down injured in the middle of the field the Saints poured forward and it was O’Halloran who floated a cross to the back post. Although arriving at pace all MacLean needed to do was guide his shot on target but instead he gave Gers a huge let off.
Rangers needed to respond fast and Gedion Zelalem looked to do that as he set a superb effort at goal. The ball reached him 25-yards out and he launched a brilliant volley, on the diagonal, which skimmed past the far post to deny him his first goal in a blue jersey.
Despite Gers pressure in the St Johnstone half it was the visitors who struck next on 29 minutes. Lappin this time succeeded with his effort from the edge of the area. His low shot whizzed through the Light Blues’ backline and nestled in the bottom corner of Foderingham’s goal.
The first half was summed up in a way when Martyn Waghorn chose to take a free-kick 25-yards out. Halliday and Tavernier had eyed it up but it fell to the inform striker. His weak effort soared over the crossbar though as Rangers went in desperate search of a chance sto peg the visitors back.
Gers went in behind at the break for the first time this season, having only conceded two goals once and that was in a 6-2 win over Hibernian. So they had plenty of work to do in the second period.
Mark Warburton’s half-time team talk became redundant within a minute of the whistle. O’Halloran took the ball on himself, just inside the Gers half, and took both Danny Wilson and Rob Kiernan with him. Neither of them could put a decisive tackle in and he squeezed through the pair to dispatch a shot and put the Saints into a commanding lead.
Oduwa nearly began the process of putting things right for Rangers when he cracked an impressive effort off the crossbar on 54 minutes. He dinked the ball past the visitors’ right back to cut into the box, lift his shot off the ground and send it goalwards, bouncing off the woodwork.
Tavernier did peg one back though with half an hour left to play and give Gers hope. The right-back had been quiet, in comparison to his usual form, but not so when he darted into the box, skipped a challenge and fired into the roof of the net to give his side an opening.
Ibrox came to its feet as the fans roared their side forward and Waghorn could have nodded another home. He met Zelalem’s cross but his header flashed just wide. Rangers had momentum on their side.
That’s not to say they made it count though as chances went begging with the clock ticking on. Barrie McKay and Nicky Law were introduced to freshen things up but, not for want of trying, Rangers couldn’t spirit another goal.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Wilson, Kiernan, Wallace, Holt (Shiels 53’), Halliday (Law 74’), Zelalem (McKay 74’), Oduwa, Waghorn, Miller
Subs not used: Kelly, Ball, Aird, Hardie
Goals: Tavernier 61’
Yellows: Tavernier 81’
ST JONHSTONE: Mannus, Mackay, Scobbie, Lappin (Craig 67’), Millar, Davidson, MacLean, Wotherspoon, Shaughnessy, Easton, O’Halloran (Cummins 72’)
Subs not used: Clark, Anderson, Sutton, McKay, Caddis
Goals: Davidson 18, Lappin 29’, O’Halloran 46’
Yellows: Shaughnessy 68’